The state prosecutor in Georgia, who has brought charges against former President Donald Trump, is asking the judge to take steps to protect the jurors in the case from others who are illegally trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The intense and divided emotions surrounding the legal proceedings involving the ex-president are a direct reflection of it. Once their details were shared on the internet, the grand jurors who filed the 41-count indictment against Trump and 18 other individuals experienced harassment. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis follows the necessary procedure.
According to the motion filed on Wednesday, personal information belonging to Willis, a Black woman, as well as her family and staff, has been posted online along with derogatory and racist remarks. The motion further stated that the intention behind posting this information was to intimidate and harass Willis and the grand jurors.
In the state of Georgia, news cameras are often permitted to film trial proceedings in the courtroom. However, it is a common practice for video and still photographers to be explicitly instructed not to capture images of the jury. Furthermore, prospective jurors participating in the jury selection process are typically identified by number rather than by their actual names.
VIEW: District attorneys in Georgia expect that the court case concerning Trump has the potential to last for a period of 4 months and rely on statements from 150 witnesses.
Jurors or potential jurors of visual materials – such as videos, photographs, and illustrations – that depict or disseminate the defendants to the public, are prohibited from being asked by Judge Scott McAfee of Fulton County Superior Court to provide any information that could help identify them. Additionally, the judge is also asking them to refrain from disclosing their affiliations, membership, employer names and addresses, telephone numbers, and physical descriptions specifically related to the publication of these images, including drawings, photos, and videos, or the creation or dissemination of any other media news about the defendants.
Included in the indictment were the identities of the 23 grand jurors who listened to the district attorney’s evidence and agreed to the charges. This allows defendants to question the makeup of the grand jury, which is why legal professionals have stated that it is customary for indictments in Georgia to list the names of the grand jurors. As a result, they quickly fell victim to “doxxing,” which is the act of publicly sharing personal information about an individual online, usually with the intention of harassing, intimidating, embarrassing, or seeking retribution, and is a shortened form of “dropping dox” or documents.
Willis contended that impacting the defendants’ entitlement to a just and unbiased jury, and that could put their “capacity to determine the matters before them fairly and without external influence” at risk, if their identities were disclosed, it is “evidently predictable” that such an occurrence would transpire for trial jurors.
Sworn statements from Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum and an investigator in Willis’ office were attached to Willis’ motion.
Schierbaum stated that there have been calls for harassment and violence against the grand jurors. He also mentioned that his department collaborated with the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies to implement safety measures in order to safeguard them. He further explained that sharing the grand jurors’ information would put them at risk without any valid reason. These endeavors demand a considerable commitment from our resources and put a burden on law enforcement, all to ensure that the grand jurors can fulfill their civic duty without unnecessary danger.
The district attorney’s investigator, Gerald Walsh, wrote anonymously on the dark web, which is a part of the internet that is only accessible through specialized tools and encrypted networks. He posted information about the grand jurors and Willis.
Users who post on the site have also made similar posts about other federal employees, judges, and prosecutors in families of Walsh. The site is known to be uncooperative with federal authorities in law enforcement, and the information hosted on the site is in Russia.