In a ruling that could have far-reaching effects on the handling of high-profile trials, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Aug. 1 that the media has a presumptive right of access to the names of jurors, and that a Pittsburgh federal judge erred when he sought to empanel an anonymous jury in the corruption trial of former Allegheny County coroner Cyril H. Wecht.

“The prospect that the press might publish background stories about the jurors is not a legally sufficient reason to withhold the jurors’ names from the public. Although such stories might make some jurors less willing to serve or more distracted from the case, this is a necessary cost of the openness of the judicial process,” Third Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote in United States v. Wecht.

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