SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ The names of the jurors in the Unabomber case will be kept secret to guard against what both sides called the ``kook factor.″
U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. issued the order Friday, a day after a hearing at which prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case against Theodore Kaczynski complained of the effect extensive news coverage could have on the trial.
``There have been contacts with various people in the case that really don’t make any sense,″ defense attorney Quin Denvir said. ``We don’t want those kinds of kook contacts for jurors.″
Denvir said anonymity ``means that jurors won’t have to worry about someone bothering them.″
Burrell ruled that the names, ages and occupations of the jurors will be withheld from the public until the case is over. He also barred the media from photographing or sketching prospective jurors. Jury selection begins Nov. 12.
The judge cited ``the combination of the extensive publicity the trial has received, the media’s efforts to interrogate any and all individuals connected to the trial, and the efforts by the public to contact and threaten witnesses.″
Those factors increase the chance that a juror might be tainted by outside contact, Burrell said. Alternatives such as ordering the jury not to talk about the case would not necessarily protect them, the judge said.
Kaczynski, 55, is accused of four California bombings, two of them fatal. He is also charged separately in a third fatal bombing in New Jersey. The former math professor and backwoods Montana hermit could get the death penalty.
News organizations had challenged the secrecy measures, claiming that public confidence in the jury system is based on it remaining an open process.
The media did win one small victory: The questionnaire used to screen prospective jurors will be released once the jury and alternates have been chosen.