WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Jury selection began behind closed doors Thursday in a defamation lawsuit seeking to hold Fox News responsible for repeatedly airing false claims related to the 2020 presidential election.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis previously made clear that the selection would be done out of public view to ensure the privacy and safety of potential jurors.
“Because of the nature of the case and under the statute, I can take those steps to protect jurors,” the judge said Thursday, noting that the case has received international attention.
“I need to make sure that the jury remains unaffected by this,” Davis added.
Jury selection in Delaware is usually done in public but occasionally is closed to protect jurors, such as in high-profile criminal cases or those involving alleged gang activity.
The judge met privately with potential jurors and handed out forms asking several routine questions, including whether those in the jury pool have ever worked for Fox or Dominion Voting Systems, the Colorado-based voting machine company that filed the defamation lawsuit.
He began Thursday’s proceeding by denying a request by certain media outlets for permission to record and rebroadcast a live audio feed of the trial. The outlets sought similar permission for the jury selection, even though it is being done in private without audio access.
“I have gone as far as I can go with response to access,” Davis told lawyers and media representatives in the courtroom, noting that even providing an audio feed of the trial is unprecedented.
“You’re getting the most access of any media in a Superior Court case in Delaware,” he said.
Lawyers for Fox filed a response opposing the media access request, saying it risks invading privacy interests, distracting jurors and trial participants, and compromising the integrity of the trial proceedings.
“There is no guarantee that others will not exploit or misuse the recordings once they are posted online,” Fox;s lawyers wrote.
Opening statements are scheduled for Monday in a trial expected to last six weeks.
Dominion alleges that Fox damaged the company by repeatedly airing false allegations that its machines and the software they used rigged the 2020 presidential election to prevent Donald Trump’s reelection. Records produced as part of the suit show many Fox executives and on-air hosts didn’t believe the claims but broadcast them anyway.