A Brooklyn federal judge isn’t budging from his decision to keep El Chapo’s jurors anonymous.
Judge Brian Cogan said he wasn’t hearing anything new from Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman that would make him change his mind on the issue.
Last month, Cogan said the jurors hearing the extradited Mexican kingpin’s trial would have their identities withheld and would be escorted to and from court by U.S. marshals. Prosecutors, defense lawyers and the media won’t have access to the names under the ruling.
Prosecutors say the fearsome Sinaloa Cartel leader has long meddled in the judicial process — like his two Mexican prison breaks and use of hitmen to rub out possible witnesses and rivals.
But Guzman’s lawyer, A. Eduardo Balarezo, has argued that granting jurors anonymity sends a message to them his client is dangerous when jurors need to presume Guzman’s innocence.
But Cogan countered that jurors for the kingpin’s trial will be told their identities are being withheld simply to protect their privacy — and that lawyers can still find fair people through the jury selection process.
Balarezo also complained the decision was based on jurors’ letters to Cogan — which he wasn’t allowed to see. And Balarezo insisted it wasn’t fair Cogan was citing the indictment against Guzman as evidence he was dangerous because the indictment consists of unproven accusations.
In his refusal to reconsider, filed last week, Cogan said the indictment is fair game because it contains the kind of evidence that would be aired in the months-long trial — evidence of a pattern of violence from Guzman and his crew that would make a juror “reasonably fear for his own safety.”
Courts have used anonymous jurors in terrorism cases, mob trials and even last year’s FIFA corruption trial.
Guzman’s trial is set to start in September.