In the age of online mobs and media-doxxing, media request during deliberations to unseal names could be viewed as an attempt at intimidation.
The jury in the Paul Manafort trial has ended deliberations for the day without a verdict. This comes after jury questions yesterday, including asking the judge to clarify the meaning of “reasonable doubt.”
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Paul Manafort is being prosecuted because of who he knows. I hope he walks, the judge’s guidance probably didn’t clarify anything:
The jury asked the judge for help understanding “reasonable doubt.” As is usual in these situations, the judge didn’t give much help, explaining that reasonable doubt was “doubt based on reason” but did not require “guilt beyond all possible doubt.”
The drama of the day was supplied by the media, which filed requests for the judge to unseal the jurors’ names and home addresses once a verdict was rendered. A Media Coalition of CNN, AP, Buzzfeed, NY Times, Politico and WaPo were the first to file, in the afternoon on August 16, 2018, the first day of deliberations. They were followed by a CBS motion filed this morning.
In a case such as this, that could be seen as an act of media intimidation — the jury is not sequestered so they certainly would hear about it. In an environment of online mobs and CNN having threatened to doxx a gif maker who mocked CNN, the jurors rightly would be concerned if the judge released their personal information to the media.
The media could have waited until after the verdict, but that would not have allowed the media to camp outside jurors homes in time for the immediate news cycle. Jurors also could have been given the choice, after the verdict, whether to have their names revealed.
That’s not to say these same media outlets won’t take it on themselves to out the jurors, particularly if there is a not guilty verdict, but the judge wasn’t going to make it easy for them.
The judge ruled that he would not release it because the judge himself had received threats and was under U.S. Marshal protection. The judge did not disclose the nature of the threats or from whom the threats came (pro-Manafort/Trump or anti-Manafort/Trump). Fox News reports:
The judge in ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s fraud trial revealed Friday he has received threats over the case and now travels with U.S. Marshals, as he turned back a media request to release juror information.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, in rejecting the motion, argued that he’s confident the jurors would be threatened as well if their information were to be made public.
“I can tell you there have been [threats]. … I don’t feel right if I release their names,” he said, adding that because of threats against him, “The Marshals go where I go.” …
Ellis, a famously prickly judge known for his colorful comments, has attracted considerable attention during the Manafort trial for his frequent sparring with the attorneys — particularly those on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
Earlier Friday morning, Ellis acknowledged facing pushback about how he’s handled this case. He told attorneys “I’m no stranger to criticism,” but said “this case has brought it to a new level.” …
Rejecting the request about the jury, Ellis said “to [grant it] would create a risk of harm to them.”
Considering that the judge has been lambasted in the media for alleged anti-prosecution bias, it’s reasonable to assume the threats came from people upset the judge’s comments during the trial might contribute to a not guilty verdict, but that’s speculation at this point.
The other drama of the day was when reporters shouted questions at Trump about the trial and whether Trump would pardon Manafort. He said “I don’t talk about that [a pardon]” and then commented on Manafort:
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