Morgan v. Dickerson, No. CV-21-0198 (June 14, 2022) (J. Timmer) https://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/0/OpinionFiles/Supreme/2022/CV210198PR.pdf
Cochise County uses “innominate juries”—prospective and impaneled jurors are referred to by a number and not their name in public (though court and parties know identities)-- for all criminal trials. In two such criminal trials, while innominate juries were used without objection from the parties, journalist David Morgan intervened unsuccessfully attempting to get the names of both prospective and impaneled jurors in the cases. Morgan argued the First Amendment provides a qualified right to public access to juror's names during voir dire absent a compelling state interest to maintain secrecy. The trial courts disagreed so Morgan brought this special action. The Arizona Court of Appeals consolidated the two cases while upholding the trial court rulings. The Arizona Supreme Court accepted review of the court of appeals decision which it vacated in part while affirming the trial court.
“The list of juror names or other juror information shall not be released unless specifically required by law or ordered by the court.” A.R.S. § 21-312(A); see also Ariz. R. Sup. Ct. 123(e)(10); Ariz. R. Crim. P. 23.3(b) Morgan argues this Arizona law is in conflict with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applied to Arizona through the Fourteenth Amendment.
While the First Amendment implicitly guarantees the public and press the right to attend criminal trials, it is a qualified right. In Press-Enter. Co. v. Superior Court (Press-Enterprise II), 478 U.S. 1, 8, 13 (1986) the United States Supreme Court outlines how to draw the line on questions such as this. Look to whether historically the “process” has been open to the press and public then ask yourself the question of “whether public access plays a significant positive role in the functioning of the particular process in question.”
Here the Arizona Supreme Court finds that historically jurors names have been revealed during voir dire in Arizona courts. Likewise, “open proceedings play a significant positive role in voir dire by checking the courts to ensure established standards are being used to select jurors and by simultaneously assuring the public that fairly selected jurors are holding offenders to account for their crimes.” That said, public access to the actual juror's names does not play a “significant positive role” in accomplishing these goals.
In sum, public access to jurors' names promotes neither
fairness in voir dire proceedings nor the perception of fairness. As such,
it does not play a significant positive role in the functioning of voir dire,
and we answer the logic inquiry in the negative. Consequently, the First
Amendment does not provide the press or public with a qualified right to
access jurors' names, and § 21-312(A) is facially valid.
Trial courts have discretion as to whether or not to allow access to juror names. If a request for the names is denied, trial courts are encouraged to explain their reasoning on the record.
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