Aug 28, 2014
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Union Leader challenges jury description restrictions in Webster trial
MANCHESTER - Hillsborough County Superior Court North Judge Gillian Abramson said she will rule Tuesday morning on a motion by the New Hampshire Union Leader, seeking to loosen restrictions on juror descriptions, in the attempted murder case of Myles Webster, 23.
Webster is accused of shooting Manchester Police Officer Daniel Doherty multiple times after a foot chase on the West Side March 21.
Abramson issued an order Nov. 28, saying: "Descriptions of jurors in the media shall be limited to a juror's gender, approximate age, and general occupation. No other information shall be published." Violation of the order may be considered contempt of court.
Under those restrictions, if a media organization reported that a jury pool appeared to contain no persons of color, Native Americans or persons of Asian descent, it would be cited for contempt of court.
Attorney Gregory Sullivan argued on behalf of the newspaper that the phrase "no other information" is overly broad. He said ethnicity or race would be of interest to the public.
"Juror behavior is another area that would be of interest to the public," said Sullivan.
When Abramson asked what kind of behavior Sullivan meant, he said examples would be snoring, dozing or hand signals.
While Abramson said safety and privacy of jurors is essential, Sullivan argued that his suggestions would not jeopardize jurors' privacy or the defendant's right to a fair trial.
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