“One month ago, 23 grand jurors and three alternates took an oath to keep secret their deliberations, as they began reviewing evidence and testimony about the alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.
But under state law, the identities of the jurors are not secret. In fact, the names of the Fulton County jurors are listed on Page 9 of the 98-page indictment released late Monday that criminally charges former president Donald Trumpand 18 others.
The law, which is aimed at bringing transparency to criminal proceedings, doesn’t give judges options to protect the privacy of jurors, experts said — even in a high-profile case like Trump’s indictment that could expose them to intense scrutiny or even threats.
“It’s a matter of public record,” said Pete Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, which provides training to prosecutors in the state. “Georgia has always been proud of the fact that the court system is a very open process here. I have not found a case — that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist — that allows us to keep grand jurors’ names secret.”
Concerns about the Atlanta-area jurors’ safety surfaced immediately Tuesday morning when the photos of at least two jurors were posted on Twitter by an anonymous account. Names of jurors popped up in pro-Trump extremist forums as supporters weighed the benefits of digging into jurors’ lives against the risks that it would backfire and make themselves “unwitting pawns.”
One post read: “It’s time we do the doxing,” invoking a practice that typically refers to exposing someone to harassment by publishing their personal information online. Another agreed, writing that “People need to be outside these peoples houses.”
Others in the forum sharply disagreed, warning Trump supporters not to be sucked into a potential “false flag” operation because the media would surely pounce on any threats to jurors. “Seriously,” one user wrote. “Imagine if something were to happen to a person on that list by ‘a crazy maga.’”
Several of the jurors disabled their profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook. Others turned off their phones, sending callers straight to voice mail. One juror answered a call from The Washington Post and said “No comment” before hanging up. A son of one juror reached by The Post said he would pass along the request to speak with his father, but he added it was unlikely that the man would engage with news media because of security concerns.
A spokeswoman for the Fulton County sheriff declined to comment on security for the grand jury.
Skandalakis said that in his three decades of experience as a prosecutor, grand jurors in Georgia rarely give interviews after bringing charges. However, the foreperson of a Fulton County special purpose grand jury, which investigated alleged interference in the state’s 2020 election and issued a final report that remains mostly sealed, did speak publicly earlier this year.
“They typically issue the indictments and go about their business,” Skandalakis said. “I’ve indicted gang cases in which people are concerned for their safety, and I think that’s probably what happened here.”
Every state has its own set of rules regarding the format of indictments and whether those serving on grand juries are listed by name. The names of federal grand jurors are generally concealed; sometimes the name of the foreperson is revealed. Proponents of the Georgia code have argued that revealing names bolsters public trust in the integrity of the process. Others are concerned about regular citizens compelled to serve on a high-profile jury being exposed to harassment.
Part of the Fulton County indictment deals with the brutal harassment suffered by two poll workers, Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani accused them of fraud. Their emotional testimony at a congressional hearing related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot highlighted how the spread of misinformation can traumatize ordinary people doing the work that keeps democratic institutions functioning.
“Georgia needs to fix this practice yesterday,” said Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney and FBI official, referring to making grand jurors’ names public. “I am all for transparency, but not when it puts citizens at risk.”
Holly Bailey and Hannah Allam contributed to this report.