District Judge Jackie Glass refused Thursday to release copies of completed juror questionnaires in O.J. Simpson’s armed robbery and kidnapping case.
Glass also wouldn’t release a blank copy of the jury questionnaire until 12 jurors and six alternates are seated.
In her order, Glass said she wouldn’t release the filled out questionnaires because she didn’t want to break a promise she made to potential jurors that their answers would be “kept in confidence, under seal.”
“The Court refuses to betray the trust of those individuals who relied on the representations of the Court in this case,” the order states.
Glass’ order was in response to a motion filed by Stephens Media, LLC, the owners of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and The Associated Press. The news organizations filed the motion to get copies of the blank and filled juror questionnaires on Monday, the day Simpson’s trial began. Glass denied the motion orally on Monday.
About 500 prospective jurors filled out questionnaires for the trial. The court included a letter with the questionnaires stating that potential jurors’ answers will be part of the permanent record and therefore will become public documents. But the letter went on to say that after the jury is selected, answers on the questionnaires “will be returned to the Clerk of the Court and kept in confidence, under seal.”
During jury selection this week, attorneys cited some of the questions on the questionnaire when interviewing potential jurors. The jury was asked what they thought of Simpson and his 1995 murder trial, in which he was acquitted of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.
Glass also said in Thursday’s order that she wouldn’t release a blank jury questionnaire until the jury is picked, because she doesn’t want potential jurors to look at the questionnaire and “tailor their responses to maneuver themselves onto the jury.”
Attorney Don Campbell, who is representing the Review-Journal and The Associated Press, said an appeal was filed with the Nevada Supreme Court seeking to compel Glass to turn over the questionnaires.
Campbell said there is abundant case law showing that journalists have the right to jury questionnaires in cases.
In his appeal, Campbell argued that the U.S. Supreme Court “has expressly held that the public and press have a qualified First Amendment right of access” to jury selection proceedings.
Thomas Mitchell, editor of the Review-Journal, said Glass’ promise to the jurors not to release a public document doesn’t trump the law.
“Just because she misspoke to the jurors doesn’t give it legal authority,” Mitchell said.
NAKED BOY CONFESSES
Naked boy is coming clean.
Jason Dinant, 27, made the news in Simpson’s trial when he approached two potential jurors Tuesday night in front of the courthouse. At the time, no one knew who Dinant was or why he approached two potential jurors in violation of Glass’ court order.
Glass, informed by the jurors of the encounter, asked on Wednesday that an investigation be started.
Dinant learned Wednesday morning that he caused an issue in the Simpson trial and wanted to explain himself.
“There was no ill intent,” he said Thursday.
Dinant said he approached the potential jurors because he wanted to do man-on-the-street interviews about the trial for his Web site, www.nakedboynews.com.
On his site, Dinant discusses current events in front of a camera while naked or nearly naked.
Dinant said he didn’t know the two women were potential jurors when he approached them.
Originally from New York, Dinant lives in Las Vegas and has always been interested in politics and the entertainment industry. He started his site in May so he could “tell the naked truth about how he sees the news.”
“Oftentimes, the major media is afraid to say what they really want to say,” he said.
Contact reporter David Kihara at email@example.com or 702 380-1039.