McVeigh Trial: No O.J. Circus

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DENVER: Opening arguments are set to begin Thursday in the trial of Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh, and some reporters already are up in arms as Judge Richard Matsch takes unprecedented measures to avoid the media circus that surrounded the O.J. Simpson trials. Matsch, who allowed the potential jurors to be identified only by number during the selection process, has ordered a total blackout on their identities. By assigning them a new set of numbers, he hopes to make it more difficult for the public and the media to ferret out their biographical data, beliefs and race. "Matsch doesn't want any press contact with the jurors, no reporters contacting jurors telling them something that hasn't been allowed as evidence in court," TIME's Pat Cole says. "The blackout also gives the jurors some privacy so they don't have to worry about intense scrutiny as they listen to the evidence and then make their decision. Their job is to focus on the case." Because the trial is expected to last at least five months, the jury will not be sequestered. Still, reporters from a local paper, the Rocky Mountain News, say they've figured out who some of the jurors are: a church-going grandmother, a woman who acted as jury forewoman in a New Jersey violent crime case, a registered nurse and a maintenance man who works for a grocery store chain.