Don’t be surprised to see the names of jurors in the first Enron case pop up in press coverage of the trial. That’s because a federal judge has denied the prosecution’s request to keep them secret.
U.S. District Court Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. didn’t find that the case — which concerns an alleged sham transaction of a Nigerian barge and does not involve the most notorious Enron defendants — warranted the measure, which is used in organized-crime cases. The prosecution hoped to avoid a repeat of the Tyco case, in which a mistrial was declared after a juror, who was identified in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, received a threatening letter.
The decision, says Michael Gass, a partner at Boston law firm Palmer & Dodge LLP, is in line with the trend to keep court proceedings as open as possible. “It’s rare to keep the jurors’ names secret,” he explains. Other measures to limit jury tampering, such as sequestering the jury or closing the courtroom to the press, are also unlikely.
But jurors’ names could still be kept secret during the trial of former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling. “It’s such a high-profile case,” says Gass. “And so many people were devastated by it.”