U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis has issued an Order denying the requests of several news organizations that had sought the names of the individuals who served as jurors in the recently concluded trial of Keith Alan Raniere, the founder of the NXIVM crime syndicate.
In issuing his ruling, the judge indicated that concerns over the jurors’ privacy and security were sufficient to overcome the news organizations’ argument that the empaneled jurors’ names should be released “in accordance with the strong First Amendment presumption of access that attaches to such information”.
Raniere and his attorneys had taken no position as to whether the names of the jurors should be released to the news organizations that had requested that information: e.g., Daily News, L.P.; the New York Times Company; NYP Holding, Inc.; and Newsday LLC.
The prosecution, however, had opposed the release of that information to any news organization and/or to the general public.
Privacy Concerns are Heightened in this Case
Judge Garaufis noted that the jurors’ privacy interests were heightened in this case because the trial involved “highly sensitive information (including child pornography, nude photographs, and graphic sexual testimony) and generate worldwide press coverage…”.
He also noted that several Mexican media outlets had published the last names of the victims who appeared at – or were identified during the course of – the trial. Although it was under no obligation to do so, Frank Report withheld the publication of those last names.
Several of the jurors privately asked the court not to release their names even after the trial was concluded.
Security Concerns are a Major Issue
Judge Garaufis also made it clear that “…the court is concerned for the jurors’ security”.
One of the reasons cited by the judge for that concern is the fact that “…evidence at trial suggested that Raniere’s associates would go to great lengths to antagonize his perceived enemies, including through the use of private investigators to obtain sensitive personal information”.
He also noted that he had been advised by the prosecution that one “NXIVM defector’s collateral was released during trial and published by the Mexican media, suggesting that Raniere’s alleged criminal enterprise may continue to exist notwithstanding his incarceration” (Uh oh, Emi, that may not have been such a good idea after all!).
Decision is Based on Questionable Reasoning
Although we understand the judge’s ruling, we also question the reasoning behind it.
To begin with – and as the judge noted in his Order – the identities of all the 500 potential jurors were disclosed to Raniere and his lawyers well before the voir dire took place.
That allowed them to do at least some preliminary research on all those people.
And once the 12 jurors and 6 alternate jurors were selected, you can be certain that Raniere’s lawyers did extensive background checks on all of them (Hell, they may have even reached back out to Juval Aviv or Steve Ram Bam to do that work).
So, if Raniere already knows the names of the jurors – and has access to all sorts of background materials about them – why wouldn’t he have already instructed his attorneys to turn all that information to some of his still faithful acolytes.
Imagine what sort of horrible things Steve Ose and Ben Meyers could do with that information.
Just how many of the jurors would be found to have child porn on their computers?
And how many of them would be indicted in Mexico or some convenient U.S. city like El Paso, TX?
That’s how Raniere operated in the past.
And as though of us who know him figured out a long time ago, he is a creature of habit when it comes to strategy and tactics.
So far as we know, no collateral was released to – or shown by – any Mexican media outlet.
What was released – and what we chose not to share with our readers – was a copy of the videotape of Sarah Edmondson’s branding ceremony.
It was brutal and should never have been made in the first place.
The same is true for all the other videotapes of branding ceremonies.