The judge presiding over the trial of former Trump presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort has decided to not release names and addresses of jurors in hopes of preventing death threats similar to those he received on Friday.
Virginia federal Judge T.S. Ellis III said that over the past few weeks he has received death threats and has had to have U.S. marshals detail follow him at all times.
“I have the Marshals’ protection,” Ellis said. “I don’t even go to the hotel alone.”
“I’ve received criticism and threats,” Ellis said, “I’d imagine [jurors] would, too,” he added.
CNN, Buzzfeed, and The Washington Post, along with other media outlets filed a motion to request that Ellis release information on the jurors and to unseal transcripts from several sidebar conferences during the trial, where lawyers on both sides met with the judge in order to hash out technical disagreements.
Judge Ellis made the decision after weighing whether or not to make public names and addresses of the 12 jurors, who were on their second full day of deliberations on Friday. Ellis said he’s concerned for the “peace and safety of the jurors.”
The first person to stand trial from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, Manafort faces 18 counts related to bank fraud and tax evasion. The jury is still deliberating their verdict after having listened to 11 days of testimony from witnesses, arguments and evidence.
Ellis had urged the publications to appeal his decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and commended the media outlets and their role in covering trials.
Friday, President Donald Trump issued a defense of Manafort calling him a “very good person.”
“I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “When you look at what’s going on, I think it’s a very sad day for our country,” he said. “He worked for me for a very short period of time. But you know what, he happens to be a very good person and I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.”
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