Media Contact with Jurors

In recent years, the Indiana Supreme Court has moved to protect the privacy of jurors.

Jury Rule 10

Jury Rule 10 of the Indiana Rules of Court was changed in January 2003 to protect juror privacy and offer more safety to jurors. Jury Rule 10 states "Personal information relating to a juror or prospective juror not disclosed in open court is confidential" other than for the use of the parties and counsel. The Citizens Commission for the Future of Indiana Courts recommended the change to Jury Rule 10 after an extensive study of Indiana's jury system.

Administrative Rule 9

The jury rule change was followed by changes in the Supreme Court's Administrative Rule 9 that became effective in January 2004. Rule 9 sets out the Court's policy toward public access to records in the judicial system.

As to juror information, Administrative Rule 9 comports with the intent of Jury Rule 10 and takes into consideration the wishes of jurors to maintain their privacy.

Administrative Rule 9(G)(1)(b)(xii) closes "personal information relating to jurors or prospective jurors" found in court documents.

Contacting jurors under the new rules

If reporters desire to talk to jurors immediately following the end of a trial, it is suggested a request be made to the judge prior to the conclusion of the case. This allows the judge to relay the request to the jurors before they are dismissed. The judge can then arrange to have the jurors willing to talk to the media stay in the courtroom or go to a pre-arranged interview room at the conclusion of the trial. While the reporters talk to those jurors, the other jurors can leave quietly without falling under the glare of cameras or facing questions from the media either in a hallway or parking lot.

If a reporter wishes to contact jurors either weeks or months after a trial, the reporter can make a request for jurors' contact information through the process outlined in Admin. Rule 9(I). In this case, the court can contact the jurors to determine whether any object. It is assumed that if a juror objects, the judge will deny the request for that juror's address or phone number. If the juror does not object, the judge will either provide the juror's contact information to the reporter or give the reporter's contact information to the juror.

This procedure serves the interests of juror privacy and safety while also accommodating the newsgathering needs of the media.