The judge in Paul Manafort’s fraud trial rejected the media’s motion Friday to unseal the names and addresses of the jurors, arguing that the move would make them targets.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said he believed the jurors would be threatened if their names were exposed, just like he himself has been threatened since the trial began.
“I can tell you there have been [threats]. … I don’t feel right if I release their names,” he said, adding that because of threats against him, “The Marshals go where I go.”
Ellis didn’t go into details about the threats he’s received over the case, but stressed: “I have the marshals’ protection.” Exposing the names and addresses of the jury, Ellis argued, “would create a risk of harm to them.”
He also said: “I had no idea this case would excite these emotions, I will tell you frankly.”
The request for the juror information came from CNN, the Associated Press, Politico, NBC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News, as the jury deliberated for its second day.
For the same reason the judge articulated, the idea was not popular with conservatives on Twitter:
We’re not enemies of people. Also we want the names and addresses of jurors. No reason.
— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) August 17, 2018
I think that's terrible – it could potentially put the jurors' lives at risk. You just know there will be some reporters who will show up at their homes.
— Rhonda Wolfson (@just_rhondaw) August 17, 2018
Ellis, a famously prickly judge known for his colorful comments, has attracted considerable attention during the Manafort trial for his frequent sparring with the attorneys — particularly those on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
According to Fox News, Ellis earlier on Friday said that he’s faced pushback because of how he’s handled this case, telling attorneys “I’m no stranger to criticism” but that “this case has brought it to a new level.”