Paul Manafort

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Judge Refuses To Release Names Of Jurors In Paul Manafort Trial

August 17, 2018 - 10:43 am
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WCBS 880/AP) — The judge presiding over the fraud trial of former Trump campaign Paul Manafort said Friday that he will not release the names of jurors at the trial's conclusion because he fears for their safety and because he himself has received threats. 

A coalition of media organizations, including The Associated Press, filed a motion requesting the names of jurors after the trial, as well as access to sealed transcripts of bench conferences that have occurred during the three-week trial.

Jury lists are presumed to be public unless a judge articulates a reason for keeping them secret.

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III said during a hearing Friday afternoon he is concerned for the "peace and safety of the jurors." He said that he personally has received threats and is currently under the protection of U.S. marshals.

He declined to delve into specifics, but said he's been taken aback by the level of interest in the trial.

The Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, and BuzzFeed, Inc. had asked the judge to unseal the closed documents being used in the case. Ellis said he had already planned to unseal all materials "save one exception" after the trial ended.

The jury on Friday went through a second day of deliberations in Manafort's the tax and bank fraud trial. Jurors went home at 5 p.m. and will resume deliberations on Monday.

Judge Ellis sent the jury of six men and six women back to resume deliberations Friday shortly after 9:30 a.m. The jury concluded its first day of deliberations Thursday with a series of questions to the judge.

Along with a request to "redefine" reasonable doubt, the jury asked about the list of exhibits, rules for reporting foreign bank accounts and the definition of "shelf companies," a term used during the trial to describe some of the foreign companies used by Manafort.

Ellis told the jurors they need to rely on their collective memory of the evidence to answer most questions. As for reasonable doubt, he described it as "a doubt based on reason" and told jurors it does not require proof "beyond all doubt."

"They asked for information the judge wasn't willing to give about the intricacies of banking law," CBS News correspondent Steven Portnoy told WCBS 880. "The jury is the finder of fact in these cases and the judge doesn't want to answer their questions cause I suppose he fears it will influence their decision making."

As for the question about reasonable doubt, Portnoy said that is not a good sign for the prosecution.

"What it indicates is a debate or at least a vigorous discussion inside the jury room about the fact that at least one juror has doubt and maybe they're going back and forth about hwo reasonable that doubt is, but any doubt at all is a sign that the prosecution did not to the satisfaction of all 12 jurors prove its case," Portnoy said. "The fact that they asked about reasonable doubt got a lot of attention yesterday because it indicates that there is this, at the very least, discussion going on behind closed doors of just what the standard is and whether the prosecution has met it."

Prosecutors say Manafort hid tens of millions of dollars in foreign income from the IRS by advising politicians in Ukraine. Then, when they Ukrainian money dried up, they say he lied on loan applications to maintain his cash flow.

Defense lawyers say the government failed to prove its case and that Manafort relied on underlings to handle his finances.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)