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Critics of anonymous jurors in all cases say the proposals are unconstitutional and just “plain bad public policy.”

Lucy Dalglish, executive director for Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said current court conduct is crafted to reflect what the constitution requires, and any changes beyond that means the courts are overstepping their boundaries.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has said there is a presumption that criminal trials will be conducted in a public manner,” she said. “The public gets to see jury selection, and the public gets to see the evidence. If something is so sensitive that somebody believes that a portion of the trial, the record or the testimony needs to be secret, then a judge must … determine that a defendant’s privacy outweighs the public’s First Amendment right to watch it.”

Delegate David B. Albo, Fairfax County Republican, said he voted for and supports Virginia’s current system and that courts should sparingly use anonymous juries on a case-by-case basis.

“The problem with all this is it goes against the very premise of what the Founding Fathers set the system up to be,” said Mr. Albo. He is chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee, which examines court-related legislation.

“In the old days, the British had secret trials, would pretend to have juries and tell jurors what to do or threaten jurors. The only way to make sure that trials are fair is to make them open to the public.

“The guys who wrote these rules knew what they were doing, they’re smarter than you could ever imagine. For me, it takes a whole lot to say the system they set up should be changed.”

Mr. Albo said that if he wins his November re-election bid, he expects to see legislation in front of his committee in January that would pre-empt or countermand any Virginia high court decision establishing mandatory anonymity.

Some states have gone in the other direction. New Jersey and Massachusetts have limited the use of anonymous juries.

“It’s standard procedure and rooted in the historical function of juries as being participants in the legal process and identified participants in the legal process,” said Pamela Wood, Massachusetts’ state jury commissioner. “Of course the jurors’ names are not publicized, but the statute does not provide protection for the identity of jurors, although we do take great pains to respect the privacy of jurors.”

In 2000, an Ohio trial court decided a local court failed to provide a “compelling interest” to justify the use of an anonymous jury during Clifton Hill’s murder trial. The judge never made a finding that an anonymous jury was necessary — it was an automatic decision. Ms. Dalglish’s organization filed an amicus brief before the Ohio Supreme Court in the case, asking for the conviction to be reversed as unconstitutional, though the state court’s justices upheld the conviction and did not take up the question of anonymous-jury rules.

Greg Hurley of the Center for Jury Studies, a component of the National Center for State Courts, said most states already have existing procedures to provide any needed anonymity on a case-by-case basis and a blanket anonymous jury proposal is unnecessary.

“Personally, I don’t see the need for it,” said Mr. Hurley, who practiced criminal law for 10 years. “I’m not sure if that rule is the best way to deal with that, jury instruction is best from the court. Keep doing what has always been done.”

Even if states do adopt anonymous jurors for all cases, Mr. Cardosi’s experience in the Scott Peterson murder trial leads him to doubt how effective that anonymity can be.

“It’s impossible for long trials to stay completely anonymous. The media is … ruthless. They’re sitting in the parking lot of the courthouse writing down license plates.

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