Fani Willis seeks protections for Georgia jurors

September 7, 2023

Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis on Wednesday asked Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to take steps to protect the jurors who indicted former President Trump and 18 co-defendants from doxing threats.

Willis asked McAfee to prohibit defendants, the news media or anyone else from creating or publishing images—including video, photos and drawings—of jurors, as well as of prospective jurors in the upcoming criminal trials.

Trump and his co-defendants were indicted by a grand jury last month related to attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election, following a more than two-year investigation by Willis. All 19 co-defendants face racketeering charges as well as numerous other criminal counts. 

As is standard in the state of Georgia, the indictment includes the names of the grand jurors, in part because it provides defendants the chance to challenge the jury’s composition. 

Almost immediately upon the indictment’s publication, the 23 grand jurors in the Fulton County racketeering case became victims of doxing—the posting of personal information about someone in order to harass, threaten, shame or exact some sort of revenge.

Attached to Willis’ court filing was a sworn statement from Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum who said that listings of the grand jurors’ information had in fact made them targets of “harassment and violence.” Schierbaum  added that plans being put in place to ensure their safety “require a significant devotion of our capacity and represent a strain on law enforcement resources to allow them to complete their civic duty without being subjected to unnecessary danger.”

Willis is further concerned that it is “clearly foreseeable” that trial jurors will also be doxed if their information is made public, which could jeopardize their “ability to decide the issues before them impartially and without outside influence.”

She also noted in her filing that she and some of her office staffers had been doxed, as well, and that their personal information—including home and work addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and “GPS coordinates”—was often “intertwined with derogatory and racist remarks.” 

Willis’ filing comes just over a week after Judge McAfee ruled that all court proceedings in the case will be televised.

PHOTO: Fani Willis August 14

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