Since their relatively recent beginnings in 1977, anony- mous juries have been used across a litany of cases: organ- ized crime, terrorism, murder, sports scandals, police killings, and even political corruption. And their use is on the rise. An anonymous jury is a type of jury that a court may empanel in a criminal trial; if one is used, then information that might otherwise identify jurors is withheld from the parties, the pub- lic, or some combination thereof, for varying lengths of time.
Though not without its benefits, anonymous juries raise questions regarding a defendant’s presumption of innocence, the public’s right to an open trial, the broad discretion afforded to judges, and the impacts of anonymity on juror decision- making. In fact, one mock jury experiment found that anony- mous jurors returned approximately 15% more guilty verdicts than their non-anonymous counterparts. The anonymous jury is unquestionably a potent tool that affords a court great flexi- bility to meet the exigencies of a trial head on. But its ex- traordinary characteristics counsel care in its empanelment. By adopting the Seventh Circuit’s approach to anonymous ju- ries and requiring reasoned verdicts when they are used, anonymous juries may yet become an “inspired, trusted, and effective” instrument of justice.
To read more, click here: A Jury of Your [Redacted]: The Rise and Implications of Anonymous Juries.