The Boston press corps is frustrated with Boston’s federal court over handling of jury selection in the ongoing Marathon bombing trial, says the Washington Post. Compared with courts in many other countries, the federal court has never seemed particularly accessible to journalists. No video or audio recording or photography of the proceedings is allowed, and transcripts are difficult to get. Local court reporters say they have never faced the sorts of restrictions imposed by Judge George O'Toole in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspected bomber. The bulk of the filings in the case are under seal, including one defense motion that was excerpted at length by the Boston Globe before the judge sealed it last week, and reporters are excluded from seeing or hearing much of the courtroom discussion that would customarily be public.
Yesterday, the Globe filed a motion requesting public and media access to some of the challenges made to juror candidacies by the lawyers on either side and the judge's rulings on these challenges. The prosecution and the defense have worked out a system for signaling to each other and then to the judge that they agree the person is unsuitable for jury and that the interview can be cut short. Sometimes, it is obvious that serving on the jury would pose an extraordinary hardship. The court has interviewed 98 people so far, and it would appear that most of them cannot serve on the jury, either because they hold strong beliefs about Tsarnaev's guilt or about the death penalty.