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Officials Investigate Threats Against Trump Grand Jurors in Georgia

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Officials Investigate Threats Against Trump Grand Jurors in Georgia

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The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that it was investigating online threats against the grand jurors who voted this week to indict former President Donald J. Trump and 18 others, accusing them of conspiring to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.

The jurors’ names are listed early in the sprawling 98-page indictment, as required in Georgia, making the state an outlier among federal and state court systems.

Now some of those jurors have had their faces, social media profiles and possible addresses and phone numbers shared on internet sites, in some cases with the suggestion that they should be harassed — though it was unclear on Thursday if anyone had followed up on those suggestions.

The county sheriff’s office said in a statement that it was aware of online threats against grand jurors and was working with other agencies to track down their origin. It did not answer inquiries about whether any jurors had reported harassment.

Other prosecutions of Mr. Trump have also resulted in threats. A Texas woman was charged this month with threatening to kill Tanya S. Chutkan, the judge in Washington who is overseeing the federal election interference case against the former president.

The jurors in the Georgia case were drawn from across Fulton County, where the district attorney, Fani T. Willis, spent two and a half years investigating actions by Mr. Trump and his allies in the aftermath of the 2020 election and presented evidence to the jury on Monday. Twelve of the 23 jurors were required to approve an indictment.

Soon after the indictment was released late Monday, some on social media began scrutinizing the jurors’ identities and revealing their personal details.

“I thought it only fair to share a few names from that grand jury,” one user wrote on Facebook on Wednesday, including possible addresses and phone numbers for several jurors. “I will continue to post the other jurors as I find them.”

On Truth Social, the social media platform founded by Mr. Trump — who has himself lashed out at prosecutors, judges and private citizens who have sued him — many users reposted the names. In one response to a list of several jurors, a user urged others to make them “infamous” and to “make sure they can’t walk down the street.”

Media Matters, a liberal nonprofit that monitors conservative media organizations, collected other messages posted on one online board that included threats of violence against the jurors and called the list of their names and addresses a “hit list.”

The New York Times viewed writings on nearly a dozen channels of the messaging app Telegram, where the jurors’ information was being shared. In many of those channels, claims were made regarding the race or religious background of the jurors based on their names or their politics. Several people shared posts from one apparent grand juror who supported Democrats in the past.

Jon B. Gould, a lawyer and criminologist at the University of California, Irvine, said Georgia was fairly unusual in making grand jurors’ names public. It opens up the possibility that they could be harassed for their decisions, he said, especially in cases involving gangs and organized crime.

Diane Peress, a former state and federal prosecutor who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said prosecutors in New York State and the federal system took pains to keep the names of grand jurors secret. For instance, jurors are usually referred to only by number during grand jury proceedings in New York State.

One reason for the Georgia rule requiring the release of the jurors’ names, said Michael Mears, a professor at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, is to give defense lawyers a tiny window into the proceedings — letting them check, for instance, whether any of the jurors should have been excluded because they were convicted felons or resided outside the county.

Aside from the names, procedures in Georgia are more secretive than in New York, the other state jurisdiction where Mr. Trump has been charged with crimes. New York keeps a record of grand jury proceedings and testimony, which is turned over to the defense and can be used at trial.

But in Georgia, records are not kept nor is a transcript made, Mr. Mears said, making it extremely difficult to challenge the grand jury’s decision.

Sheera Frenkel contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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