Tensing Retrial Judge Expects To Begin Jury Selection Friday

Jun 1, 2017

Clarification: The judge's order states 38 people indicated on their questionnaires they'd be unwilling to serve if their identities were to become known. The order adds 39 people indicated they'd be concerned for their safety. The 77 referenced below adds those two numbers together. However, WVXU has no way of knowing how much overlap there is between the 38 and the 39.

Update 6:50 p.m. The judge in the retrial of Ray Tensing is reinstating restrictions on media access to the trial. Judge Leslie Ghiz late Thursday issued an order providing limited access to trial proceedings. One change from her previous order is she will allow a video feed of the voir dire, or jury selection process, providing no potential jurors are shown.

The ruling does not address access to completed versions of the juror questionnaires, redacted or otherwise.

Original Post: Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz appears to be moving forward with beginning jury selection Friday in the retrial of Ray Tensing.

Ghiz said as much during a hearing Thursday, but as of 5 p.m. had still not issued an order outlining press restrictions. Media were invited to the courthouse Thursday afternoon to install a pool, or shared, camera to record selection proceedings. (A pool camera was present for this portion of the first trial, though potential jurors' faces were not shown.)

Local media outlets have objected to restrictions about using electronic devices, recording proceedings, and access to questionnaires filled out by potential jurors in the retrial.

The judge counters that her rules are needed to ensure juror safety and security.

Initially Ghiz refused to hold an evidentiary hearing on her rules order. Media attorneys filed with an appeals court, which put a moratorium on the rules on the basis of a lack of a hearing. Earlier this week Ghiz vacated her initial order and scheduled the requested hearing. That's what happened Thursday.

During Thursday's hearing Ghiz stated 77 of 180 possible jurors indicated on their questionnaires they either wouldn't want to be a juror if their identities were made public, "or have a safety concern." (See clarification.)

Attorney Jack Greiner notes jurors in the United States do not have an expectation of anonymity.

He also explains why news outlets object to being kept out of the voir dire (jury selection) process.

"The public and the press have a right to meaningfully participate in the voir dire process," says Greiner. "Given that much of the voir dire process in this case is going to be conducted via the written questionnaires, if the press and the public can't see the questionnaires then there really is no way to meaningfully participate."

A blank version of the 23-page questionnaire was released earlier this week. The only identifying information it requests is a potential juror's name. Redacted versions of the completed forms from the first Tensing trial were released after the trial was over.

WVXU was not party to initial filings, but after being kept out of a public hearing last week, the station is now represented.