A list of bad jurors kept by prosecutors is not a public record, according to the state attorney general's office, a ruling that “flies in the face of open government,” according to Fort Worth Defense lawyer William Ray in the Star-Telegram.
Ray sought a list the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office keeps of jurors who have previously served and notes on why they would be unfit to serve again. Presumably, these jurors did not deliver a verdict favorable to the state.
According to the story:
"[Assistant Attorney General James Morris] cited a 1983 state open-records decision that 'disclosure of prosecutors' subjective comments about former jurors would tend to indicate state's possible strategy in future prosecutions and in doing so would compromise state's effectiveness in prosecuting criminal matters.'"
Ray last year got a list of jurors and their verdict histories from Tarrant County prosecutors. He found out about the “bad juror” list inadvertently and asked for it.
In the name of both discovery and open records, this list kept at the DA’s office in Tarrant should be open to the public, as it is kept in the name of the public on taxpayer time.
Jurors' identities are often protected while serving but in general are fair game afterward. Many invite public exposure, writing books about the famous trials they helped decide.
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo of scales of justice by flickr user rememberthrough, used via a Creative Commons license.