The judge who presided at Bill Cosby's criminal trial deferred a decision at a hearing on Tuesday about whether to release the names of the jurors who convicted Mr. Cosby of sexual assault last week, saying he had to balance legal precedent with his strong desire to protect their privacy.

The names of jurors are typically public in Pennsylvania, and Judge Steven T. O'Neill, who also presided at Mr. Cosby's first trial last summer, had released names then after that case ended in a mistrial. But Judge O'Neill seemed pained Tuesday at the prospect of releasing the names this time, suggesting that even now, members of the media had figured out their identities and approached them.

"Somebody disclosed those names to media outlets, I don't know who," the judge said. "I find it curious that each and every one had the media on their front lawns, harassing them and calling them up."

The judge, who sits in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, said he will soon rule on the request by media organizations including The New York Times for the immediate release of the names. He did not say when the order would be issued.

The media organizations had argued that an open process in which jurors are named helps the public affirm the impartiality of the judicial proceedings. Paul Safier, a Philadelphia lawyer representing The Times and other media groups, said the First Amendment requires that the names be released unless there are special concerns such as threats of violence against jurors.

"Unless there are some particularized privacy concerns, it can't overcome the First Amendment rights," he said.

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