DETROIT, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- A judge agreed Monday to withhold the names of jurors in the corruption trial of ex-Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, citing the case's "extensive publicity."
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds said she is keeping the names confidential and known only to Kilpatrick, his co-defendants and attorneys to protect their privacy, and prevent them from being subjected to harassment, intimidation or improper influence from the media or anyone else, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Kirkpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, contractor Bobby Mercado and former water commissioner Victor Mercado are accused of running a criminal enterprise through the mayor's office to enrich themselves, and are charged with numerous counts, including bribery, extortion and fraud, the newspaper said.
"It goes without saying, this has created an emotionally charged atmosphere. Needless to say, there's been extensive publicity," she said.
Edmunds initially proposed withholding the jurors' names completely, but defendants objected, claiming a legal right to know who is judging them and that the secrecy would wrongfully imply the defendants are dangerous, the newspaper said.
"Empaneling an anonymous jury is a drastic measure," said John Shea, Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer. "It sends a signal to the jury that the defendant, in some fashion, needs to be separated from the jury."
Four-hundred prospective jurors are expected to fill out pre-selection questionnaires Wednesday with jury selection to begin Sept. 6.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to deliver their opening statements Sept. 14. The trial could last up to four months.