Casey Anthony judge blasts media, holds back juror names

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 26, 2011 7:48 PM
Casey Anthony judge blasts media, holds back juror names

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - The names of jurors in the Casey Anthony murder trial will remain secret until at least October 25 to allow those enraged by her acquittal to "compose and restrain themselves," according to the judge's order on Tuesday.

Judge Belvin Perry acknowledged in his 13-page order that juror names must be disclosed eventually under Florida's broad Public Records laws. But he took the opportunity to complain about modern-day media.

After a 7-week nationally televised trial, Anthony was found not guilty July 5 of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008, but was convicted of lying to law enforcement officers about Caylee's disappearance and sentenced to four years in jail.

After officials took into account time spent in jail awaiting trial and time off for good behavior, Casey Anthony was released on July 17.

Perry lamented what he said was the blurring of lines between news and entertainment, saying court proceedings have become just another form of mindless entertainment and a revenue source for broadcast networks.

"It was reported that television ratings for the trial were extraordinary. Clearly, the broadcast of an official and serious court proceeding such as this trial where a young girl was dead and her mother faced the death penalty devolved into cheap, soap-opera-like entertainment," Perry wrote.

"Unquestionably, use of Florida public records laws by the media ... has become simply a tool to sell a story. It is time that Florida's public records laws recognize this fact," Perry wrote.

He also advocated a new law to keep juror names secret in "specific, rare cases" both to protect jurors constitutional right to privacy and to prevent potential jurors from avoiding service.

Three jurors have already voluntarily identified themselves and talked about the verdict.

(Editing by Jerry Norton)