In a motion filed in federal court on Thursday, CNN and several other media outlets requested that the court release the names and home addresses of all jurors in the Paul Manafort fraud case. Jurors haven not yet rendered a verdict on any of the 18 charges against Manafort, who briefly served as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager in 2016.
The motion — filed on behalf of CNN, Washington Post, BuzzFeed, POLITICO, New York Times, NBC Universal, and the Associated Press — asks the court to provide to the media organizations the full names and home addresses of the men and women who were summoned and selected by the federal government to serve as jurors in Manafort’s fraud case.
The judge will hold a hearing on a motion by CNN and media organizations to unseal the names and addresses of jurors as well as other parts of the trial that are currently secret.
“A thirsty press is essential in a free country,” the Judge said in announcing the hearing.
The media request for the names and home addresses of jurors comes a day after the jury began deliberating about the verdicts on 18 fraud and conspiracy counts against Manafort. The charges, which are unrelated to Manafort’s work for the Trump campaign in 2016, were brought by the federal Office of Special Counsel, which is headed by former FBI director Robert Mueller. Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate allegations that the Trump campaign committed treason by illegally conspiring with Russian government officials to steal the presidential election from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors allege that Manafort illegally hid assets in undisclosed offshore accounts from the Internal Revenue Service in an attempt to evade required tax payments. Prosecutors also allege that Manafort committed bank fraud by falsifying financial documents in the process of obtaining loans.
Early Thursday evening, members of the jury asked the judge a series of questions about the case and the legal threshold for proving guilt, including a definition of what “reasonable doubt” meant. Many outside legal experts interpreted the question as being good news for Manafort’s defense team and bad news for the prosecution.
Publicly outing the names and home addresses of jurors is considered ethically questionable, as outlined in this guidance sheet on the topic from the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press:
When jurors are not willing to talk, however, some question whether it is appropriate for journalists to name jurors.
Because jurors do not volunteer for their roles, many journalists question whether they should be thrust into the limelight. According to Tompkins, both before and after a verdict is rendered, most newsrooms air on the side of caution when making these decisions.
‘Generally, there is a policy against publishing juror names,’ Tompkins said. ‘Among journalists, there genuinely is the feeling that there is no good, compelling reason to identify these people.’
This isn’t the first time CNN has tried to doxx private individuals whose political views or statements offend the network. Last July, the news network threatened to identify a Reddit user who created a GIF of Trump wrestling another man with CNN’s logo superimposed on his face. CNN wrote at the time that it would reveal the individual’s identity publicly if he continued to mock the network.
In February, CNN showed up on the front lawn at the home of an elderly woman who reportedly unknowingly shared pro-Trump memes on Facebook that were created by a Russian bot factory. A reporter aggressively harangued the befuddled woman, demanding to know why she colluded with Russians to hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances of becoming president.
The federal judge presiding over Manafort’s case scheduled a hearing on CNN’s doxxing motion for 2:00 p.m. Eastern time on Friday.