Alternate juror drops out of Tensing trial

Posted at 10:14 AM, Nov 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-07 12:38:12-05

CINCINNATI -- A juror has dropped out of the Ray Tensing murder trial, Judge Megan Shanahan announced in court Monday morning.

Juror alternate No. 4, a white woman, removed herself from service due to safety and privacy concerns brought up by jurors Friday. Read more on that here.

Juror questionnaires were originally requested by the Cincinnati Enquirer. Shanahan agreed to release the completed questionnaires with information that could identify jurors removed. After announcing this agreement in court Friday morning, WCPO and WLWT requested the redacted documents.

Friday afternoon, the Cincinnati Enquirer withdrew its request for the questionnaires. WLWT followed. On Monday, Shanahan told the court that WCPO's request was the only remaining request. She said she would not release the questionnaires.

"As a result of the media's request, we lost a juror. Alternate juror No. 4 opted to remove herself from service," she said. "I have decided to revoke my previous order. I will not release questionnaires, redacted or not."

Through the Ohio Open Records Law, WCPO has requested the juror questionnaires completed by the men and women now serving on the jury in the Ray Tensing trial. These questionnaires were used by both the defense and the prosecution for the jury selection process. The court is considering making the redacted documents available pending any objection from the defense or prosecution.
Why WCPO is doing this: Requesting this type of information is a normal process media outlets conduct in nearly every major trial. The goal in requesting this information is to best understand the backgrounds of the jury pool, not to identify them to the public. The availability of this information during the trial will provide further in-depth perspective into the backgrounds of the jury that will determine the verdict in this case. 
In a case like this, we would generally not publish materials from the questionnaires — unless there was a compelling reason to do so. But we consider it our responsibility to you to review important information in legal cases such as this one to determine what — if anything — is newsworthy and should be shared with the public.

Transparency is essential to the judicial process. We are requesting that the court makes the jury questionnaires accessible to the public. It is an important part of ensuring all sides believe the court is conducting the trial in a fair manner that will result in a final verdict that is appropriate according to the jury.