PG X(M) Access To Jurors’ Names And Addresses.
ALERT: As of January 1, 2001, CCP 206 was amended, adding subsection (c), to provide that if a discussion of a jury deliberation or verdict occurs at any time more than 24 hours after the verdict, prior to discussing the jury deliberation or verdict in a criminal action with a member of a jury, the defendant or his or her attorney or representative, or the prosecutor or his or her representative, shall inform the juror of the identity of the case, the party in that case which the person represents, the subject of the interview, the juror’s absolute right to discuss or not discuss the deliberations or verdict in the case with the person, and the juror’s right to review and have a copy of any declaration filed with a court. (AB 2567, Ch. 242.)
PRACTICE NOTE: In People v. Simms (94) 24 CA4th 462, 466 [29 CR2d 436], the court held that under the plain language of CCP 206 and CCP 237, the defendant has the right to obtain the jurors’ addresses and telephone numbers upon request “for the purpose of developing issues on appeal or for any other lawful purpose.” (See also, People v. Scott REV GTD/DISD/DEPUB (9/29/94, S041272) 26 CA4th 133 [31 CR2d 483] reprinted at 40 CA4th 215; Bellas v. Superior Court (People) (2000) 85 CA4th 636 [102 CR2d 380] [public access to judicial proceedings outweighs jurors’ privacy interest in completed juror questionnaires].) However, effective 1/1/96, CCP 206 & CCP 237 were amended to require that juror-identifying information be sealed unless the defendant shows “good cause” for release of the information and the juror is “willing to be contacted.” (CCP 237(d)).
There may be a constitutional problem with this procedure because it interferes with the defendant’s right to assure that his or her trial comported with the federal constitutional rights to due process and trial by jury (6th and 14th Amendments). In a related context, it has been held that “the decision to impanel an anonymous jury … is a drastic measure, which should be undertaken only in limited and carefully delineated circumstances.” Therefore, anonymous juries are permissible only “when needed to ensure against a serious threat to jury safety ….” (U.S. v. Krout (5th Cir. 1995) 66 F3d 1420, 1427; see also, U.S. v. Sanchez (5th Cir. 1996) 74 F3d 562; U.S. v. Paccione (2nd Cir. 1991) 949 F2d 1183.)
While CCP 237 does not authorize empaneling an anonymous jury absent a compelling interest for doing so (see Erickson v. Superior Court (97) 55 CA4th 755 [64 CR2d 230]), it does authorize juror anonymity through all post-verdict proceedings, including the motion for new trial and the appeal. (Ibid.) Juror anonymity during these proceedings impacts the defendant’s federal constitutional rights to effective assistance of counsel, trial by jury and due process, both at trial, and on appeal (see e.g., Cole v. Arkansas (48) 333 US 196, 201-02 [92 LEd 644; 68 SCt 514] [due process on appeal]; Evitts v. Lucey (85) 469 US 387 [83 LEd2d 821; 105 SCt 830 [effective counsel on appeal],) by curtailing the defendant’s right to assure that the jurors correctly and fairly tried the case. Nor is the constitutional abridgement lessened by the “good cause” requirement. It is for the very purpose of developing good cause that the defendant needs to contact the jurors in the first place. Moreover, even if good cause is shown, the information will remain sealed if the juror is “unwilling to be contacted.”
In sum, just as juror anonymity during trial is a “drastic measure” which jeopardizes the fairness of the trial, juror anonymity during the post-verdict proceedings jeopardizes the fairness of both the trial and the post-verdict process.
NOTE: People v. Goodwin (97) 59 CA4th 1084 [69 CR2d 576] concluded that jurors could be referred to by numbers throughout the trial because their identities were revealed and provided to counsel at the outset and “interested members of the public or the news media were [not] precluded from ascertaining juror names during the trial.” (Goodwin, 59 CA4th at 1092 fn 6.) Although Goodwin questioned the wisdom of the Los Angeles procedure, it did not find it fatally inconsistent with any statute or violative of the defendant’s right to public trial. (But see constitutional challenge and proposed limiting instructions in FORECITE F 0.50b.)
STRATEGY NOTE: It should be emphasized that CCP 237 does not preclude the defense from contacting jurors post-verdict. This fact is demonstrated by the January 1, 2001 amendment to CCP 206 (see ALERT above) and by People v. Leonard (2002) 97 CA4th 1297 [119 CR2d 57] [prosecution precluded from appealing denial of post-verdict request to limit defense contact of trial jurors because the order did not affect the judgment or its enforcement or hamper further prosecution]; see also People v. Benavides (2002) 99 CA4th 100 [120 CR2d 755] [order regarding defendant’s contact with former jurors may not be appealed by prosecution].
RESEARCH NOTES: See Annotation, Propriety of, and procedure for, ordering names and identities of jurors to be withheld from accused in federal criminal trial — “anonymous juries”, 93 ALR Fed 135, supp. sec. 4.5 and Later Case Service.
See “Juror Privacy Issues Versus The Right To Juror Information” by Kate Johnston, FORUM, July 1998.