TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A judge in eastern Oklahoma directed a court clerk’s office to omit the names of jurors and witnesses in official court minutes posted online.
Presiding District Judge William Kellough filed an administrative order on the matter, effective last month, saying documents that identify jurors and are part of the case record will not available for the public to see online, the Tulsa World reported Sunday.
This information remains public record, Court Clerk Sally Howe Smith told the newspaper, but it “just won’t be on the Internet.”
The names of Tulsa County jurors and witnesses have often been available online when a trial ends. But Kellough said that the order is in the interest of “appropriate anonymity.”
Joey Senat, an associate professor at the School of Media and Strategic Communications at Oklahoma State University, said requiring people to go to a courthouse to get such information “is designed to create an obstacle of time and distance.”
“It seems like they are being overly protective,” Senat said.
Some district judges disagree, saying jurors sometimes voice concerns about their names being released.
“I want them to feel safe and secure,” District Judge Kurt Glassco said. “They perform a vital service.”
The latest order about the names of jurors and witnesses comes months after the court clerk’s office in December started posting an expanded list of records and documents online.