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R Kelly prosecutors request jurors be kept anonymous in New York trial

By | Published on Friday 10 July 2020

R Kelly

New York prosecutors have filed a motion requesting that jurors in the upcoming R Kelly trial are kept anonymous and partially sequestered while sitting.

The request has been made partly in a bid to limit the influence of media reporting on their final decision, but also due to fears that Kelly associates might attempt to tamper with the jury.

Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg has said he supports the jury being shielded from outside influences – although he said he feared the influence of feminists rather than the media – but he dubbed claims that Kelly might threaten or bribe jury members as “ludicrous”.

Despite Greenberg’s response over the jury tampering concern, one of the reasons Kelly has been held in custody pending trial – and has had repeated requests to await trial under house arrest denied – is evidence of witness tampering during his previous trial on child abuse charges in 2008.

If the new motion is granted in full, where jurors live and work would be kept secret. They would also eat lunch away from the public, and be escorted in and out of the court by US Marshalls.

“We don’t want them, when they enter and leave the building, when they go to lunch or walk outside for fresh air, to be exposed to the influences of the #MeToo movement”, Greenberg told CNN, when agreeing with part of the prosecution’s proposal.

However, he went on: “The idea that R Kelly is going to do anything while his case is pending to intimidate jurors or threaten jurors like some 1950s mobster is ludicrous”.

He also disagreed with keeping all details about jurors private, saying: “I’ve done cases with anonymous juries. But we, as his lawyers, should certainly know where the jurors are from, what they do for a living. The idea of jury selection is that you have some idea of whom you’re selecting”.

Kelly’s New York trial is set to begin in September, although due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it is not clear if that date is still feasible. Greenberg has repeatedly claimed that it is currently impossible to prepare for the trial, due to COVID restrictions placed on the prison where Kelly is being held.