Gannett Co. v. State
Delaware Supreme Court
571 A.2d 735 (1990)
In November 1988, Steven B. Pennell (defendant) was charged with three counts of first-degree murder. The criminal case against Pennell received widespread local and regional publicity. During pretrial hearings, the trial court judge entered an order mandating that the names of all prospective jurors be kept confidential. The Gannett Company (plaintiff), as the publisher of a statewide newspaper, intervened in the proceedings and filed an expedited interlocutory appeal asserting that it had the right to access the jurors’ names under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Delaware constitution’s guarantee of a free press. Both Delaware (defendant) and Pennell argued that the jurors’ names should be kept confidential in order to protect the integrity of the trial. The trial judge denied the Gannett Company’s motion and refused to vacate the order. As part of the rationale for maintaining confidentiality, the order cited the Gannett Company’s history of publishing articles during high-profile trials that focused extensively on that trial’s jurors. The Gannett Company filed an appeal.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Moore, J.)
Dissent (Walsh, J.)
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