Local News

Judge Orders Jury Pool Answers In Mike Peterson Trial Not Be Released

Posted May 6, 2003

— A Durham judge ruled that the responses to a list of questions being answered by potential jurors in the Mike Peterson trial should not be released to the public until the end of the trial.

David Rudolf, Peterson's attorney, and attorneys for media outlets argued Tuesday whether the answers from jury surveys should be released to the public. Attorneys for the media claim withholding the information violates a First Amendment right to openness.

"It certainly is not the kind of information that is particularly intimate and private," said attorney Amanda Martin, attorney for the

News & Observer.

Rudolf said he is simply trying to protect jurors' privacy.

"We are also going to subject them to having the most personal details revealed in the media to satisfy something newsworthy and to sell newspapers. That is just silly," Rudolf said.

The 16-page survey contains 106 questions. It asks the jury pool members where they live, whom they know, their children, their favorite author, their education and their job, among other things.

The questionnaire, created by Rudolf and approved by District Attorney Jim Hardin, also asks the pool about their experience with the criminal justice system and their feelings on pornography and homosexuality.

It is the second time in a week that attorneys for the media have taken attorneys in the Peterson case to task. Last week, media representatives asked to keep the details of the second autopsy of Peterson's friend, Elizabeth Ratliff, open.

Media attorneys say it is essential to keep as many details about the case open to the public.

"This is not being done out of idle curiosity," John Bussian of the

Herald-Sun

. "This is to enforce a right the public has, first and foremost, to be present when trial proceeding occur.

Attorneys for the media have not announced whether they will appeal the judge's decision.

Rudolf also filed a motion Tuesday that asked that the entire jury selection process be closed to the public.

In addition on Thursday, the judge also excused four people from serving on the jury.

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