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As a panel of reporters, lawyers and judges gathered at Columbia University last week to debate what could be done to prevent what was referred to as “Tyco II,” a federal judge in New York offered the first real answer: Bar the press from reporting the names of jurors. The judge, Richard Owen of the Southern District of New York, who is presiding over the retrial of former investment banker Frank P. Quattrone, said at the outset of jury selection that he would make it “absolutely clear” that the media were not to publish the names of jurors until the trial ended. Quattrone is accused of obstructing a stock fraud investigation in 2000. When told by a federal prosecutor that “the press may have an issue with that,” Owen responded, according to a transcript, “Then I’ll let them have an issue with that. I do not want a Tyco front-page picture or that kind of thing, and then people calling the juror at home or whatever happened in that case.” Owen was referring to the courtroom drama surrounding Ruth B. Jordan, a 79-year-old juror who was not convinced that Tyco executives had acted criminally in what prosecutors alleged was a scheme to loot the company’s assets. Jordan was identified in the press during deliberations. She later became frightened by a letter she received about the case, and the trial was called off by Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Obus. Owen’s response, the first in a courtroom setting, struck media organizations and their lawyers as unduly harsh. “The effort to protect prospective jurors by enjoining the press from publishing information that they learn in court is plainly inappropriate,” said David A. Schulz of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, who successfully represented news organizations in their effort to invalidate a ruling from Southern District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum that closed jury voir dire during the Martha Stewart trial. Other members of the Free Press annual conference at Columbia expressed varied views on how judges should police their courts in light of Tyco. District Judge Richard M. Berman suggested that juror anonymity could be the subject of a court order, with violators subject to contempt of court. District Judge Frederic Block took the view that Tyco was an anomaly, and that judges would be better off talking to prospective jurors about what normally happens at trials to quell any concerns.

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