A federal judge in Miami ordered jurors to be selected anonymously in the upcoming retrial of an alleged terrorist cell, citing concerns about the potential for jury tampering.
The move, which is sometimes made in organized crime trials, will mean that potential jurors in the closely watched case will be referred to by number instead of by name.
Jurors will also be investigated and supervised by the U.S. Marshals Service in order to guard against any outside influence or attempts at intimidation.
“I do find there is a strong reason to believe that the jury needs protection,” said U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard.
She cited an incident in which a defense lawyer in the case handed a complete list of names from a jury to a client’s mother, so that she could pray for a not guilty verdict.
The list, later handed over to the court, had “x” marks next to six of the jurors’ names.
The order was the latest hurdle in the government’s case against the so-called Liberty City 7, who were arrested in an FBI-led sting operation and charged with plotting to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower and other buildings.
Earlier this month, a jury deadlocked on six defendants in the trial and acquitted a seventh.
Lygleson Lemorin, the acquitted defendant, was, immediately after his verdict, transferred to a deportation facility in Georgia, where the U.S. resident faces proceedings that could result in his being deported to his native Haiti.
Lemorin grew up in Miami, is married and has two children.
Judge Lenard instructed the U.S. government not to deport Lemorin before he has the chance to testify in the retrial of the remaining six defendants.
“Anonymous jury ordered for terror retrial”
Miami Herald, Dec. 21, 2007
“Judge in Liberty City Seven retrial orders juror’s names be kept secret”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dec, 21, 2007
“Judge blocks deportation of acquitted Liberty City 7 suspect”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dec. 21, 2007