Ohio appeals court orders release of juror questionnaires
By DAN SEWELL, Associated Press
CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio appeals court on Wednesday ruled that a judge should release jury questionnaires used for the second trial of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black motorist.
The three 1st District Court of Appeals judges found that Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz should have released before trial began the 180 completed questionnaires used for jury selection, but removing identifying information including names and addresses. The questionnaires for Ray Tensing’s retrial covered a wide range of topics from the potential jurors’ relationships with police to their opinions on the Black Lives Matter movement.
“(Ghiz) made insufficient findings to support her decision to withhold the completed juror questionnaires in their entirety from public disclosure,” Judge Russell Mock wrote. He was joined by Judges Marilyn Zayas and Dennis Deters.
The murder case was dismissed in July after the second mistrial for the former University of Cincinnati officer in the July 2015 shooting of Sam DuBose during a traffic stop. Federal authorities are reviewing the shooting for possible civil rights violations.
The judges voted 2-1 to dismiss a request by news organizations, including The Associated Press, to block the coverage restrictions Ghiz put in place for the retrial that included limiting camera access, electronic device use and numbers of reporters inside the courtroom. Their ruling stated that the request was moot since the trial was over.
However, Zayas disagreed, saying there’s a reasonable expectation that a judge will issue similar restrictions against the news organizations in a “future high-profile criminal trial.”
Media attorney Jack Greiner said the news organizations will consider appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court to allow some information on the jurors’ identities and also for a ruling against the coverage restrictions.
A message seeking comment was left Wednesday for Ghiz. She had defended her restrictions, including a gag order, as needed to be able to seat a jury in Hamilton County for the highly publicized case.
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