Willis seeks to shield jurors in Trump trial

Move comes after online harassment of grand jurors who indicted former president

Credit: Michael Blackshire

Credit: Michael Blackshire

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has asked the judge in the Donald Trump racketeering trial to shield the identities of prospective jurors to spare them the threats and harassment faced by the grand jury that indicted the former president and 18 of his allies last month.

In a motion filed in Fulton County Superior Court Wednesday, Willis asked Judge Scott McAfee to prohibit defendants, the news media or “any other person” from capturing any sort of image — from a photo to a drawing — of jurors or from distributing any identifying information about them.

Willis has previously disclosed that she has been the target of racist comments, vitriol and violent threats since she launched her investigation of Trump in Feb. 2021 and, later, the record label and alleged street gang Young Slime Life. She travels with an around-the-clock security detail at work and at her home, and last year gave her frontline staff members bulletproof vests and keychains with panic buttons.

But the filing on Wednesday revealed she had also been the victim of doxxing, in which personal information like her address, date of birth and phone number were shared online. Willis said that she had tried to get the material taken down but that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security determined it was being hosted by Russian company and could not be removed.

“The effects of the widespread national and international media coverage on individuals associated with this case is real and substantial,” Willis wrote in the 14-page motion, noting that grand jurors had their personal information splashed across conspiracy websites“ with the intent to harass and intimidate them.”

Willis has also received threats of a more personal nature in recent weeks, especially after Trump’s campaign began airing an ad on Atlanta cable stations alleging, with no evidence, that Willis had a romantic affair with a former client. Willis called the claims “derogatory and false” and directed her staff not to respond to them.

“We have no personal feelings against those we investigate or prosecute and we should not express any. This is business, it will never be personal,” Willis said in an Aug. 9 email to staff. “....Your instruction from me is to ignore all the noise and keep doing your job with excellence.”

In a hearing Wednesday, a member of Willis’ staff estimated that a trial would take at least four months to complete and potentially much longer if defendants took the stand. A trial for at least two of defendants, who have demanded a speedy trial, has been set for Oct. 23.