Feds in New York want anony­mous jury when R. Kelly goes to trial there

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - jsei­del@sun­times.com | @Sei­delCon­tent BY JON SEIDEL, FED­ERAL COURTS REPORTER

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in Brook­lyn want to take the rare step of putting R&B singer R. Kelly on trial in front of an anony­mous jury, ar­gu­ing in part the ev­i­dence will likely lead ju­rors to be­lieve Kelly is “ca­pa­ble of in­flict­ing vi­o­lence.”

They also pointed in a court fil­ing Wed­nes­day to the an­tic­i­pated me­dia cov­er­age of the trial — which is sure to be in­tense — as well as al­le­ga­tions Kelly ob­structed jus­tice in his 2008 child pornog­ra­phy trial in Cook County.

Steve Green­berg, one of Kelly’s de­fense at­tor­neys, told the Chicago Sun-Times there are parts of the pros­e­cu­tors’ re­quest he agrees with, in­clud­ing a lim­ited se­ques­tra­tion that would shield ju­rors “from the prej­u­di­cial out­side in­flu­ences of the #MeToo move­ment.” But he said other parts of the re­quest are “ridicu­lous.”

“To sug­gest that [Kelly] may harm a ju­ror be­cause there are al­le­ga­tions that he may have en­gaged in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is, frankly, in­sult­ing,” Green­berg said. “It’s in­sult­ing and il­log­i­cal.”

Anony­mous ju­ries are typ­i­cally re­served for mob, ter­ror­ism or street gang cases. The 2016 trial in Chicago of the Ho­bos street gang — a case that in­volved the mur­der of a fed­eral in­for­mant — played out be­fore an anony­mous jury. So did the “Fam­ily Se­crets” mob trial in 2007.

Kelly, who as of this week­end will have spent a full year in gov­ern­ment cus­tody, faces fed­eral in­dict­ments in Chicago and Brook­lyn. The case in Brook­lyn, where pros­e­cu­tors are ask­ing for an anony­mous jury, in­volves charges of racketeeri­ng and il­le­gal sex­ual ac­tiv­ity. Pros­e­cu­tors there say Kelly led an “en­ter­prise” made up of his man­agers, body­guards, driv­ers and other em­ploy­ees who helped him re­cruit women and girls for sex.

The Chicago case al­leges child pornog­ra­phy and ob­struc­tion of jus­tice in­volv­ing the 2008 trial. Kelly’s at­tor­neys have said they’d pre­fer to go to trial in Brook­lyn first, where the case is set to go for­ward Sept. 29. His fed­eral trial in Chicago is set for Oct. 13. It’s un­clear if those dates will hold, given the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Kelly has tried re­peat­edly to get out of jail amid the pan­demic, and he has most re­cently taken his re­quest to the 2nd U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals. He has been held in Chicago’s Metropoli­tan Cor­rec­tional since his ar­rest in July 2019.

The Brook­lyn pros­e­cu­tors say they want to keep the iden­ti­ties of all prospec­tive ju­rors — in­clud­ing their names, ad­dresses and places of em­ploy­ment — hid­den from Kelly and the at­tor­neys dur­ing his trial there. They also want the ju­rors to eat lunch to­gether and be ac­com­pa­nied in and out of the court­house by the U.S. Mar­shals Ser­vice “so that they do not min­gle in the court­house with the pub­lic or any po­ten­tial trial spec­ta­tor.”

R. Kelly

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.