Court Rejects Government Request In Traficant Trial

CLEVELAND (AP) - A federal judge has rejected the government's request to withhold the names of jurors in the trial of U.S. Rep. James Traficant from the public.

Traficant (pictured, right) is charged with 10 counts of bribery and corruption.

Federal prosecutors requested in December that the names and addresses of jurors selected for the trial be kept secret from both the parties in the case and from the public.

The government had said that as a member of Congress, Traficant has "political friends as well as enemies" who "may attempt to tamper with or harass jurors should their identities be made public." In an anonymous jury selection, potential jurors would be identified only by an assigned number.

U.S. District Judge Lesley Wells ruled Tuesday that Traficant does not pose any danger to jurors.

"The defendant is a United States Congressman," Wells wrote. "He has not displayed any 'dangerous' conduct in these proceedings, nor are there any allegations of 'dangerous' conduct on his part."

Traficant had said that seating an anonymous jury would make jurors believe he must be dangerous and would prejudice them against him.

Wells also denied Traficant's motion to expand the pool of potential jurors by selecting the jury from all of northern Ohio.

The court's jurisdiction covers the state's 40 northern counties, but Wells said the court's standard procedure for Cleveland trials is to draw jurors from the nine counties surrounding the city.

Traficant's trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 4 and is expected to last six to eight weeks.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)