Georgia juror names in Trump case will be kept secret following request from prosecutors over security fears

Fulton County prosecutors warned the court about potential threats to jurors after a wave of online abuse

Alex Woodward
Tuesday 26 September 2023 17:38 BST
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Jurors who will participate in a sprawling criminal case against Donald Trump and 18 of his allies for their alleged efforts to overturn election results in Georgia will not be publicly identified by name, according to a ruling from the judge presiding over the case.

An order from Fulton County Supreme Court Judge Scott McAfee on 25 September prohibits filming or photographing jurors and prospective jurors and recording their conversations or statements.

None of the parties involved in the case may disclose any identifiable information about them – including their names, addresses, phone numbers and employment information – or the contents of juror questionnaires or other jury notes and documents, unless permitted by the court.

The response follows security concerns from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose office cited fears that the case could be compromised and the defendants’ right to a fair trial “endangered” if “the identities of the jurors become known to the public” after a wave of online threats towards grand jurors who voted to indict the former president.

Prosecutors sought a court order to block the former president and his co-defendants, as well as members of the press and others in the court, from disclosing information about the jury pool.

The former president is charged with 13 counts, including a charge under the state’s anti-racketeering statute, for his alleged role in a criminal scheme to pressure officials and election workers to overturn Georgia’s lawful presidential election results in 2020 after losing the state to Joe Biden.

The order also applies to a trial for Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, who will be tried separately from the rest of the defendants.

Earlier this month, Fulton County prosecutors outlined the wave of doxxing attempts, threats and harassment aimed at grand jurors, Ms Willis, her staff and members of her family, often “intertwined with derogatory and racist remarks” calling her the n-word and “b****”.

Attached affidavits from law enforcement officials claimed that a website that published “doxing” information about the grand jurors and Ms Willis is “operated by a Russian company” that has refused to remove it, “thus, the doxing of both the grand jurors and the District Attorney are permanent.”

“The effects of the widespread national and international media coverage on individuals associated with this case is real and substantial,” Fulton County prosecutors wrote in a filing on 6 September.

“Based on the doxing of Fulton County grand jurors and the Fulton County District Attorney, it is clearly foreseeable that trial jurors will likely be doxed should their names be made available to the public,” they added.

“If that were to happen, the effect on jurors’ ability to decide the issues before them impartially and without outside influence would undoubtedly be placed in jeopardy, both placing them in physical danger and materially affecting all of the defendants’ constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury.”

Far-right message boards and platforms dominated by pro-Trump users such as Gab and Truth Social were filled with posts surrounding the case and the jurors, with pledges to reveal the identities of jurors with the intent to harass them.

Accounts on fringe far-right message boards such as 4chan and The Donald also posted threatening messages about jurors, labeled their list of names in the indictment as a “hit list,” and posted images of jurors’ alleged profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn.

The case is separate from the US Department of Justice special counsel investigation into the former president’s attempts to subvert 2020 election results, a case in which federal prosecutors have sought a limited gag order to block the former president’s “inflammatory” statements that have targeted officials, judges and prosecutors overseeing his multiple criminal cases.

His statements threaten “to undermine the integrity of these proceedings and prejudice the jury pool,” prosecutors warned. Shortly after a request from special counsel Jack Smith was unsealed, the former president lashed out on his Truth Social platform and called him “deranged”.

Attorneys for Mr Trump have called federal prosecutors’ request an attempt to “unconstitutionally silence” his campaign for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.

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