United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Adrian T. Eaglin, Plaintiff,
McCall, Sergeant, Defendant.
J. GOSSETT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the court on remand following the
plaintiff's appeal from a jury trial in his civil rights
action that resulted in a verdict for the defendant. By order
and opinion entered May 10, 2017, the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the judgment but
vacated this court's docket text order overruling the
plaintiff's written objection regarding jury
questionnaires and remanded “for further proceedings on
this issue.” (See Opinion, ECF No. 215; Docket
Text Order, ECF No. 179; Plaintiff's Objection, ECF No.
178.) The mandate issued July 10, 2017.
issue back before the court stems from the plaintiff's
challenge to what he characterizes as the
“sealing” of juror questionnaire responses. After
the issuance of the court's standard trial notice and
instructions (ECF No. 170), the plaintiff filed a
“Notice of Objection to Sealing Jury Questionnaires,
” in which he stated: “This Court makes jury
questionnaires sealed as a matter of course, including the
questionnaires in this case. . . . Mr. Eaglin respectfully
objects that it is a violation of statutory law and First
Amendment to preclude public access to jury questionnaires
that substitute for questioning of the venire in open
court.” (ECF No. 178.)
accordance with the instructions from the Fourth Circuit, the
court reaffirms that the plaintiff's objection should be
overruled. The plaintiff's objection rests on two faulty
premises: contrary to his characterization, the jury
questionnaires at issue have not been
“sealed”; nor has public access been
“precluded.” Rather, access to the jury
questionnaire responses has been governed and permitted
pursuant to the terms of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1861, et
seq. and the District of South Carolina's Jury Plan,
which was promulgated pursuant to that statute and approved
by the Fourth Circuit Judicial Council. See 28
U.S.C. §§ 1861, et seq.; In re Amended
Jury Selection Plan for the Random Selection of Grand and
Petit Jurors, No. 3:14-mc-338-TLW (D.S.C. Nov. 19, 2014)
(ECF No. 2).
here, § 1863(b)(7) requires a jury plan to “fix
the time when the names drawn from the qualified jury wheel
shall be disclosed to the parties and to the public.”
28 U.S.C. § 1863(b)(7). The statute specifically states:
“If the plan permits these names to be made public, it
may nevertheless permit the chief judge of the district
court, or such other district court judge as the plan may
provide, to keep these names confidential in any case where
the interests of justice so require.” Id.
Section 1867(f) pertinently requires that the contents of
records or papers used by the clerk in connection with the
jury selection process shall not be disclosed, except
pursuant to the district court's plan. 28 U.S.C. §
to those provisions, the Jury Plan for the District of South
Carolina similarly provides, in pertinent part:
DISCLOSURE OF JUROR NAMES AND RECORDS: Names
drawn from the qualified jury wheel for petit juries will be
available to counsel or a party if proceeding pro se with
cases on the relevant trial roster who present an approved
request form seven calendar days before the jurors are to
appear at the courthouse, provided that the Chief Judge may
order the names to be kept confidential in a case or cases
when the interest of justice so require. . . .
The contents of records or papers used by the Clerk of Court
or her designee in connection with the jury selection
process, including juror qualification questionnaires, shall
not be disclosed to anyone other than court personnel except
as provided in 28 U.S.C. § 1867(f) and in this Plan. The
district's comprehensive questionnaire completed by
prospective jurors and the jury list are excluded from this
disclosure provision with the responses distributed in
accordance with the court's Local Rules.
Names of trial jurors shall not be disclosed to the public or
media outside of open court, except upon order of the court.
A request for disclosure of petit juror names to the public
or media must be made to the presiding judge. . . .
See In re Amended Jury Selection Plan, No.
3:14-mc-338-TLW (ECF No. 2-1 at 5-6).
the Plan fixes the time, as required by the statute upon
which the plaintiff relies, for disclosure of the names drawn
from the qualified jury wheel to the parties and the
public-seven calendar days before jury selection. Further,
contrary to counsel's characterization that the
questionnaire responses are “sealed, ” the Plan
specifically excludes the comprehensive questionnaires
completed by prospective jurors from the provision
prohibiting disclosure and expressly provides for their
disclosure and distribution in accordance with the
court's Local Rules.
District of South Carolina's Local Rules in turn provide
Use of Juror Questionnaires. The court may require
potential jurors to respond to written questionnaires and may
make the responses available to counsel or parties with cases
on the relevant trial roster seven (7) days prior to jury
selection. Counsel or any other persons obtaining juror
questionnaire responses must ensure that the information
contained therein is utilized solely for the purpose of
evaluating potential jurors for a pending case and is not
disseminated for any other purpose. The clerk of court shall
institute procedures to draw these requirements and
responsibilities to the attention of persons obtaining the
questionnaire responses by completing the Juror Questionnaire