Jurors’ identities can be kept secret from criminal defendants if necessary to ensure their safety, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled for the first time yesterday, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Shelby County jurors in the 2003 trial of David Ivy wore number tags around their necks when they convicted him of murdering his girlfriend and sentenced him to death. Ivy’s defense argued that his right to a public trial by an impartial jury was violated when Criminal Court Judge Joseph Dailey granted the prosecution’s request for an anonymous jury.
Writing for a 4-1 majority, Justice Riley E. Anderson said withholding jurors’ identities did not affect their decision to sentence him to death. “The prosecution asserted that a witness had been shot at (and a baby injured) following Ivy’s preliminary hearing and that a relative of Ivy’s had been charged in that incident,” Anderson wrote. “The prosecution also asserted that Ivy was a danger to jurors because he had previously escaped from custody.” Dailey took reasonable steps to ensure jurors’ safety while protecting Ivy’s rights, the court said. Jurors weren’t identified by name, but attorneys for both sides questioned them at length during the selection process. Ivy, 34, was convicted in 2003 of killing his former girlfriend as she sat in a car.