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BELLFLOWER : Policy of Keeping Jurors’ Names Secret Is Challenged

The Los Angeles public defender’s office has filed a challenge to a Los Cerritos Municipal Court judge’s unusual policy of keeping secret the names of all jurors in all criminal cases tried in the Bellflower courthouse.

In a recent petition, the public defender argues that Presiding Judge Philip K. Mautino’s policy, implemented in January, is not authorized by the state Code of Civil Procedure and constitutes a “gross violation” of defendants’ rights to a fair trial. An Aug. 31 hearing is set in Mautino’s court.

Mautino began keeping jurors’ names secret to reduce possible fear of threats or harassment.

The public defender’s office also has filed a challenge to Downey Municipal Judge David Lord’s policy of using anonymous panels in every case in his courtroom. Lord denied that motion to reveal jurors’ names. The public defender plans to appeal.

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Mautino’s use of anonymous panels in every case in the courthouse over which he presides may be the only such policy in the country.


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