ALEXANDRIA, VA — The judge presiding over the federal bank and tax fraud case against Paul Manafort on Friday declined to release the names of the jurors serving in the trial.
Judge T.S. Ellis cited threats jurors have received over the course of the trial, which begun about three weeks ago.
“I don’t feel right” about releasing the names, Ellis said.
Ellis was responding to a lawyer representing several media organizations that are seeking to unseal records in the case — including the identities of the jurors, transcripts of bench conferences between lawyers and the judge and a third category that is under seal because it relates to an ongoing investigation. Ellis did not specify the nature of the investigation.
Matthew Kelley, the lawyer representing the news organizations, argued in a hearing on the sealed records that there should be a presumption of openness when it comes to the names of the jurors. Kelley said there had not been any specific threats against the jurors, to which Ellis shot back, “I can tell you there have.”
Ellis added that he has also received threats, and is traveling with a U.S. marshall out of fear for his personal safety.
While the judge expressed sympathy with the media organizations’ desire for records to be available to the public, Ellis said if the court releases the names of the jurors, it could preclude people from participating in future “cases with notoriety.”
Manafort was in the courtroom during the hearing.
The jury continued to deliberate for a second day Friday. Late Thursday, the jury sought clarification on several issues related to the charges against Manafort.
Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.