Hennepin County District Judge Kathryn Quaintance will release the names of the jurors in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor on Aug. 3, more than 18 months after his conviction.
But Quaintance sent notice that she will release only their names, not additional identifying information. The judge, who presided over Noor's trial, has signed orders six times since his conviction on April 30, 2019, to keep jurors' names private.
Typically, juror information — including names, jury questionnaires and related data — is released within hours of a verdict.
The Star Tribune filed a motion in February to unseal the Noor jury information, and a hearing was held in late May. Quaintance repeatedly expressed concerns about the media asking jurors about their deliberations. She cited high interest in the case and possible juror harassment.
Suki Dardarian, the Star Tribune's senior managing editor and vice president, said the newspaper was pleased to get the names but disappointed that it took so long and that the judge still won't release additional identifying information.
"We are surprised that she would withhold basic juror information that is routinely public in every other trial in the state of Minnesota," she said.
Dardarian added that the newspaper is weighing its options on whether to appeal. "Now is not the time for secrecy in our criminal justice system," she said.
The judge noted the Star Tribune's motion seeks access to jury profiles and questionnaires including names, cities of residence, dates of birth, occupations, and education and marital status.
The Star Tribune generally doesn't publish juror names unless they voluntarily speak about their experiences.
Quaintance attached a letter to her order Friday telling jurors they may obtain pro bono legal representation if they need it and providing contact information for attorney Doug Kelley, who had offered his services. Kelley is a former federal prosecutor who has handled many high-profile legal matters.
In her letter to jurors, Quaintance wrote that "the court feels your collective privacy interests are not represented by any of the parties currently involved in this case." She required reporters to contact jurors through their attorneys if they have one.
Jurors convicted Noor of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, and acquitted him of second-degree murder.
Noor, 34, was responding to her 911 call about a possible sexual assault behind her south Minneapolis home on July 15, 2017, when he shot Damond, 40, from the passenger seat of his police vehicle.
Noor is in prison and his conviction is on appeal. Noor's attorneys and Hubbard Broadcasting, which owns KSTP-TV and KSTC-TV, joined the Star Tribune's motion.