27 Investigates: Buckley case demonstrates availability of juror information

By: Gabriel Roxas Email
By: Gabriel Roxas Email

The search continues for convicted rapist John Buckley IV since he jumped bail close to two weeks ago just before a Fayette County jury found him guilty. Concerns about Buckley's next move forced the victim into hiding and police and prosecutors under protection.

None of the jurors who spoke to WKYT wanted to appear on camera, but their reasons were mixed. One juror said she was afraid for her safety as long as Buckley remains free, but another said she simply wanted to put the case behind her and stressed that she did not have any concerns for her own security.

Following the trial, some raised questions about a report that family members of Buckley had asked for the identities of jurors. Buckley's family made no secret of an interest in jurors, insisting it was necessary to poll members of the jury to prepare for an appeal.

The case made us curious about what kind of information is publicly available. During a trial, the court goes to great effort to protect the identities of the jurors to protect them from outside influences. Members of the media are not allowed to speak to jurors or show their faces in television coverage until the trial is over.

After the trial, things change. The Fayette Circuit Court Administrator tells us juror names are part of the court record unless the record is sealed.

That means anyone can go the the clerk, pull the file, and read through the case that includes the names of the jurors. However the Court Administrator tells us any information beyond names like juror addresses or phone numbers can only be released with permission from the judge.

In the Buckley case Circuit Judge Thomas Clark sent to jurors a letter informing them that he could control the prosecution and defense from contacting them, but he could not control anyone else. He added that he had no reason to expect anyone would attempt to contact them. The judge's office tells us sending a letter like this is common.

Some have questioned the motivations of Buckley's family members in the efforts to obtain jury information, so we asked if that letter was specifically sent as a result of the inquiry. The judge's office would only say that it was sent on July 17th, five days after John Buckley IV jumped bail.

The Fayette Sheriff's Office tells us they continue to receive tips about Buckley's, possible whereabouts.

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