ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia prosecutor who has accused former President Donald Trump and others of illegally trying to overturn the state’s 2020 election results is asking the judge in the case to take measures to protect jurors seize.
The preliminary move by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis comes after jurors who rejected the 41-count indictment against Trump and 18 others faced harassment when their information was published online. It is a reflection of the highly polarized feelings surrounding the criminal cases against the former president.
Willis wrote in a motion filed Wednesday that the jurors’ information was “released with the intent to harass and intimidate them.” In addition, the motion states, the personal information of Willis, a Black woman, as well as that of her family and co-workers was “linked to derogatory and racist statements” online.
News cameras are often allowed in the courtroom during trials in Georgia, but video and still photographers are routinely ordered not to show images of the jury. When selecting the jury, the potential jurors are usually not mentioned by name, but rather by their number.
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Willis is asking Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to prohibit defendants, the news media or anyone else from creating or publishing images – including videos, photos and drawings – of jurors or prospective jurors. She is also asking the judge to prohibit the release of any information that would help identify her, “particularly physical descriptions, telephone numbers, addresses, employer names and membership affiliations.”
Legal experts said it is standard practice in Georgia for grand jurors to be named in indictments, in part because it gives defendants an opportunity to challenge the makeup of the grand jury. Therefore, the names of the 23 jurors who heard the district attorney’s testimony and voted to approve the indictment were included in the indictment. They immediately became victims of “doxxing,” which stands for “dropping dox” or “dropping dox” or “documents” and refers to the posting of information about someone on the Internet, usually in an attempt to harass them to threaten, shame or take revenge.
It was “clearly foreseeable” that this would happen to jurors if their names were made public and that this could jeopardize their “ability to decide the matters before them impartially and without outside influence,” which undermines the defendants’ right to one A fair and impartial decision could prejudice the jury, Willis argued.
Attached to Willis’ application were affidavits from Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum and an investigator in Willis’ office.
Schierbaum said the listing of juror information “incited harassment and violence against jurors” and that his department worked with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies to ensure security measures were in place to protect them. These efforts “require significant use of our capabilities and place a strain on law enforcement resources to enable them to carry out their civic duties without being exposed to unnecessary danger.”
Information about Willis and the grand jurors was posted on the dark web, a part of the Internet hosted on an encrypted network and accessible only through special tools that ensure anonymity, District Attorney investigator Gerald Walsh wrote.
The website that published the information is hosted in Russia and, according to federal authorities, is “uncooperative with law enforcement.” Users who post on the site have also made similar posts about other prosecutors, judges, federal employees and their families in other states, Walsh wrote.