Paul Manafort leaves the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after a status conference on November 2, 2017. Paul Manafort leaves the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after a status conference on Nov. 2, 2017. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Updated at 5:12 p.m.

The federal judge presiding over Paul Manafort’s trial refused to give media outlets the names of jurors Friday, saying such a move would “create a risk of harm to them.”

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis of the Eastern District of Virginia said he himself has received threats during the trial, in which he has been criticized for a tough approach toward special counsel prosecutors.

“I’ve received criticism and threats. I’d imagine they would too,” Ellis said.

“I won’t tell you the threats I’ve received,” he added, “but I’ll tell you I have the Marshals’ protection.”

Ellis’ decision, rejecting a request Ballard Spahr lawyers filed on behalf of several media organizations, came during a brief hearing Friday afternoon in an Alexandria federal courtroom. Ellis remarked that he had “no idea” about the emotions the special counsel prosecution would incite entering the trial.

Ellis also expressed concern about a chilling effect, saying a “substantial number of people would be scared, afraid” if they knew their names would be made public as part of their jury duty.

The media outlets—including The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN—filed a motion to intervene in the case earlier Friday asking Ellis to also unseal portions of sidebar transcripts, along with other sealed records in the case. The judge expressed concern that releasing some of the records would interfere with an ongoing investigation.

Ellis said certain transcripts would be released following the trial, and added that he agreed with the principles, outlined in the Ballard Spahr filing, of openness in judicial proceedings.

“I certainly agree it’s important for the public to have all of this, including your clients, who are the public,” Ellis said.

Not long after the hearing ended, reporters rushed back into court after learning jurors had sent a note to Ellis. The jury said it planned to leave at 5 p.m. because of an event one of its members needed to attend.

Ellis dismissed the panel Friday evening, and deliberations will resume Monday morning.

“Put it out of your mind until Monday,” Ellis told jurors.

 

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This report was updated to include the dismissal of the jury. Deliberations resume at 9:30 a.m. Monday.