ACLU of RI executive director Steven Brown issued the following statement in response to a directive by RI Superior Court Judge Netti C. Vogel in a recently concluded high-profile murder case involving Jorge DePina. The directive bars members of the general public, including the news media, from contacting jurors in the case and blocks the release of the juror list:
“The ACLU of Rhode Island is deeply troubled by Judge Vogel’s directives banning the public from contacting jurors and blocking the release of the juror list. Discussions with jurors can provide unique insights into the trial and the workings of our judicial system. Denying the public access to jurors who may wish to speak infringes on the First Amendment rights of both the press and the public, and risks undermining confidence in a transparent and fair judicial process.”
Brown said he expects the ACLU of RI to file a “friend of the court” brief in advance of a May 14th hearing on a recently filed Providence Journal lawsuit seeking to overturn Judge Vogel’s directive.