St. Petersburg Times: Keep openness in court

EDITORIAL

As the adage goes, hard cases can make bad law. They also can result in closing public records that should not be kept secret. As the anger over the outcome of the Casey Anthony case fades, so should interest by state lawmakers in filing legislation to keep the names of jurors secret. Judges already have the authority to keep jurors’ names temporarily secret in unusual situations, and requiring that the names be routinely kept confidential would undermine confidence in the justice system.

Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, is exploring legislation that would keep the names of jurors secret for at least nine months unless they voluntarily identified themselves. He already has filed another constitutionally suspect bill that would make it a felony for any juror to sell his or her story within 270 days after any civil or criminal trial. That would violate the First Amendment rights of jurors, and the notion that jurors’ names should routinely be kept secret is just as misguided.

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