The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and other media organizations are seeking to make public the names of jurors deciding federal charges against John Edwards at the end of his trial at the U.S. District Court in Greensboro.
In a motion filed with the court Wednesday, the media organizations cited a local rule of the Greensboro court that prohibits the clerks office from disclosing without court permission the names, addresses and telephone numbers of people who have served on juries.
The panel deciding whether the former U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate violated federal campaign-contribution laws is expected to begin its fifth day of deliberations Thursday. The jury has not been sequestered during more than four weeks of testimony or during deliberations.
The names of people serving on federal juries is public according to federal law, the media organizations argued in their court filings.
The motion also cites intense public interest in the trial and in how the jury ultimately rules. It argues that there is no compelling governmental interest in withholding the identities of individuals who served on the jury. Moreover, given that the case has proceeded in open court with jurors whose identities are at least partially known, perpetuating the secrecy of the jury is an affront to the First Amendment in service of a weak interest with no hope of success.
Joining in the motion are WRAL, WTVD, The New York Times Co., Media General, News 14 Carolina, NBC Universal and The Associated Press.