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Randolph wants 'cooling off' period before jurors can cash in

TALLAHASSEE — State Rep. Scott Randolph and defense attorney Mark NeJame held a press conference today to unveil a bill that would call for a "cooling off" period before jurors in high-profile cases like the Casey Anthony murder trial could cash in on their experience by getting paid for interviews.

As a member of the minority party (who House Speaker Dean Cannon dubbed the "least effective" Democrat in the chamber last spring) it's unclear how far such a bill would make it in the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature. But lawmakers are already scrambling to come up with bills spun off from the trial.

Here's the press release the Orlando Democrat's office just put out:

A joint announcement was made by State Representative Scott Randolph, District 36 and Central Florida Attorney, Mark E. NeJame, regarding newly filed legislation which will prohibit Florida jurors from being compensated or profiting from outside sources for information regarding a case in which they have served, as well as legislation exempting the release of juror names from public records unless the juror chooses to do so.

The bill calls for "cooling off" period of 270 days immediately following dismissal, when members of the jury are free to disclose information pertaining to the trial, but will not be able to profit from those disclosures. The Juror Compensation Bill would make violations to the law a 3rd degree felony punishable by fines of up to $10,000.

Another measure to be entitled the Juror Protection Act, involving a juror's right to privacy is also under way. Rep. Randolph is drafting a proposal, which would keep the names of jurors private, unless the individual chooses to come forward. Florida law does not require for records related to juror names remained sealed after the case is complete.

State Representative Scott Randolph stated: "The purpose of this legislation is to preserve the integrity of the jury process. It balances the 1st amendment freedom of speech with the 6th amendment guarantee to a fair trial. The U.S. Supreme Court has always held that the preservation of a fair trial must be maintained at all costs. I believe that means fairness for the state as well as the defendant. But we also will be trying to protect jurors from threatening action for their verdicts."

Mark E. NeJame further stated: "Every American must receive a fair trial, without fear that a juror may be influenced by future monetary considerations. This is a step in that direction. There will be no restrictions on a juror, who after a trial wishes to discuss the case, but a juror does so knowing that they will not be able to profit as a result of their jury service."

Copyright © 2011, Orlando Sentinel

Source: Orlando Sentinel

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