Judge Orders Jurors to Disclose Prescription Drug History
This is not a good sign for our jury system. The judge in the upcoming Anna Nicole Smith trial of Drs. Sanjeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich and boyfriend Howard K. Stern has ordered prospective jurors to disclose their medical histories, including listing the prescription drugs they have taken. The three are charged with conspiring to provide Smith with sedatives and opiates. (They are not charged with causing her death.)
While the judge has nixed cameras in the courtroom, he has ordered jurors names be kept secret from the lawyers in the case and is going to have his staff periodically check the jurors' Facebook and social media sites. [More...]
Perry plans to keep the names of jurors secret from lawyers, who complained that would make it impossible to track whether they were blogging or reporting on the trial via social networking websites.
The judge agreed to ask prospects if they have blogs or social media accounts. He also intends to ask his staff to check periodically to make sure jurors are not blogging about the case.
Juror duty is a public service. It should not lead to a wholesale invasion of privacy. Juror questionnaires have been leaked before. Who wants to see their medical details posted on TMZ? And what about oral questioning of jurors who disclose various pill use in their questionnaires? Surely they can't plan on doing that in open court, and voir dire is supposed to be open. Almost every juror is going to have some medical issue they don't want to air publicly.
Whatever happened to skillful voir dire by lawyers to weed out the stealth jurors seeking to serve to sell the story later?
Also troubling: The prosecutor told the judge she was filing documents under seal just so TMZ wouldn't get them. She asked for a gag order, which was denied.
Rose made the unusual disclosure that she was filing all of her legal documents under seal to keep them from falling into the hands of celebrity website TMZ. The judge said he was going through her sealed motions and unsealing many of them.
"I don't think you should file under seal just because you don't want the media to see it," Perry said.
"Everything I file ends up on TMZ," Rose said.
"Who cares?" said the judge.
"Our jury pool is out there," said the prosecutor.
"Do we even want people who watch TMZ on the jury?" asked the judge.
"We're going to get them," Rose said.
"I hope not," said the judge.
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