The judge in the O.J. Simpson robbery trial has agreed to release juror questionnaires after the trial, a reversal of her previous order denying their release because she had promised jurors they would be kept confidential.
District Judge Jackie Glass' new stance was outlined in a 15-page document filed Tuesday with the Nevada Supreme Court in response to an appeal of her decision by Stephens Media LLC, the owners of the Review-Journal, and The Associated Press.
The news organizations had asked Glass to release the juror questionnaires at the start of the trial, in which Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart are charged in the hotel room holdup of two sports memorabilia dealers at Palace Station.
Glass released a blank questionnaire but refused to release the questionnaires completed by the 12 jurors and six alternate jurors, citing a promise to keep the forms "in confidence, under seal."
The news organizations appealed her Sept. 11 decision, saying it was not based in law. The Supreme Court gave her 15 days to respond with legal citations supporting her decision.
In her reply, Glass, who as a state employee is represented by the Nevada attorney general's office, said she would release the forms after the trial, but she did not address her earlier decision to keep the questionnaires secret based on a promise.
Instead, she argued that releasing the questionnaires before the end of the trial could taint the jurors and jeopardize the defendants' right to a fair trial. She said excessive media attention on the case, including online wagering Web sites posting odds on the trial verdict, created a "substantial potential" to taint the jury if the questionnaires were released.
The document cites several online wagering sites. However, a search of those sites shows no current odds on the trial, and it appeared that the only odds were posted shortly after Simpson's arrest last September.
Don Campbell, the lawyer representing both media outlets, said those arguments are not enough to trump the media's First Amendment right to access the questionnaires.
Even if the trial ends before the Supreme Court issues a decision, Campbell said he hoped the court would rule on the matter to set a precedent for future disputes over juror questionnaires.