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Judge in Blago Case May Get Jurors No-Trespassing Signs for Homes

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Is a federal judge going too far by restraining the media or just being considerate?

The Chicago Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge James Zagel  in Chicago said Thursday he may have the U.S. Marshals Service offer no-trespassing signs to jurors to put up at their homes following the verdict in the retrial of ex-Ill Gov. Rod Blagojevich to keep reporters away.

“We have clear evidence that some members of the media will disregard the ordinary rights of citizens … to get the story,” Zagel said, according to the Tribune.

The judge made the remark at a hearing in which media outlets argued against proposed restrictions to keep the media away from jurors, the Tribune reported. The judge said he was bothered by the media hounding jurors after the first trial in which Blagojevich was convicted on 1 of 24 counts. The jury deadlocked on the other counts.

Lucy Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, called the idea distressing because of the message it would send to jurors, the Tribune reported. She said the post-verdict interviews provide the public a better understanding of the process.

“Passing out signs is signaling to them the media is going to make your life miserable,” Dalglish said of Zagel’s comments, ” according to the Tribune. “I don’t think that should be his role.”

Dalglish also noted the importance of post-verdict media interviews of jurors, saying they provide important understanding to the public and the legal system about how a case was handled.

The trial is set for April 20.


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