A judge has ordered news reporters not to report the names of jurors or potential jurors in the retrial of former investment banker Frank Quattrone, apparently in response to the trial of two former Tyco executives, reports the New York Times. Experts said the order probably is unconstitutional. The order was an apparent reaction to two newspapers’ decision to identify a juror in the trial of the two former Tyco International executives. That case ended in a mistrial after the juror got a phone call and a letter questioning her apparent belief that the defendants should be acquitted.
In the Quattrone case, the judge’s order “would be a direct prior restraint on publication, which is extremely unlikely to meet First Amendment standards,” said Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment lawyer. “Our courts have basically all but totally banned prior restraints on the publication of information by newspapers, and I don’t see any basis for concluding that this restraint would be held constitutional.”
Lawyers for Quattrone asked the judge last week to keep members of the jury anonymous. “That is the way to keep their names out of the paper,” a defense attorney, John W. Keker, told U.S. District Judge Richard Owen in Manhattan. “Then you can tell people: ‘You are going to sit on this jury. Your names will not be put into the newspapers. You are going to be able to try this case without worrying about getting letters from wackos all over New York, and you will be able to go home at night without worrying about having people camped at your doorsteps.’ ”
Prosecutor Steven Peikin disagreed, calling the order “a prior restraint involving the First Amendment.”