The Longest Sequestration in U.S. History
The O.J.Simpson Trial, 1994-95
While the jurors in the Derek Chauvin trial are only partially sequestered, there are occasions in which judges have decided that a jury must be fully sequestered to protect them from outside influence. The logistics for more extensive sequestrations involve quite a bit of wrangling, and have often gained significant notice in the press.
The longest jury sequestration in an American trial was for the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which stretched over 11 months between 1994 and 1995. Even before the trial began, the jury was subjected to intense scrutiny. More than 300 potential jurors were required to complete a 75-page survey about their backgrounds, with questions about their experiences with domestic violence and interracial marriage, among other topics. Twelve individuals were selected, with 12 alternates standing by in the event a juror needed to be dismissed. At the outset of the trial, Judge Lawrence Ito asked that all 24 individuals (jurors and alternate jurors) be fully sequestered and gave them only two days to prepare for a stay in an undisclosed location. They had no idea they would remain sequestered for a total of 265 days.
Over those 11 months, the jurors were kept at the Hotel Inter-Continental in Los Angeles. A group of rooms clustered together on the 15th floor of the hotel were secured, and the main elevator was programmed to avoid stopping on that floor. Any juror who left the building was required to request a security escort and use a service elevator. While the rooms did have televisions and phones, members of the jury were prohibited from using them during their stay.
After the marathon trial concluded, jurors used their home base at the Hotel Inter-Continental as a location for a gathering to celebrate the end of their confinement. While they weren’t facing the same penalties as the defendant in the case, many members of the jury felt the nearly year-long period away from their families was a difficult challenge to withstand.