May 26th, 2024

The Latest | Jury selection enters a pivotal stretch as Trump’s hush money trial resumes

By The Associated Press on April 18, 2024.

Former President Donald Trump returns to the courtroom after a recess at Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New York. Donald Trump returned to the courtroom Tuesday as a judge works to find a panel of jurors who will decide whether the former president is guilty of criminal charges alleging he falsified business records to cover up a sex scandal during the 2016 campaign. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool)

NEW YORK (AP) – Jury selection in Donald Trump ‘s hush money trial enters a pivotal phase as the former president returns to court. Attorneys will need to pick 12 more jurors to serve on the panel that will decide the first-ever criminal case against a former U.S. commander-in-chief after a previously seated juror was dismissed Thursday morning.

Seven jurors were seated Tuesday after being grilled for hours by lawyers on everything from their hobbies to social media posts to their opinion of the presumptive GOP nominee in this year’s closely contested presidential race.

Those selected Tuesday included an information technology worker, an English teacher, an oncology nurse, a sales professional, a software engineer and two lawyers.

The first day of Trump’s trial ended on Monday with no one picked to sit on the jury or as one of six alternates. Dozens of prospective jurors were dismissed both days after saying they could not be impartial or had other commitments that would conflict with the trial, which is expected to last several weeks.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records as part of an alleged scheme to bury stories he feared could hurt his 2016 campaign.

The allegations focus on payoffs to two women, porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said they had extramarital sexual encounters with Trump years earlier, as well as to a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about a child he alleged Trump had out of wedlock. Trump says none of these supposed sexual encounters occurred.

The case is the first of Trump’s four indictments to reach trial.

Currently:

– Jury selection process follows a familiar pattern with an unpredictable outcome

– Trump lawyers say Stormy Daniels refused subpoena outside a Brooklyn bar

– After 7 jurors were seated in Trump’s trial on Tuesday, he trekked to a New York bodega to campaign

– Only 1 in 3 US adults think Trump acted illegally in New York hush money case, AP-NORC poll shows

– Trump trial: Why can’t Americans see or hear what is happening inside the courtroom?

Here’s the latest:

JUDGE ORDERS JOURNALISTS NOT TO REPORT ON POTENTIAL JURORS’ EMPLOYERS

After dismissing a seated juror in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, Judge Juan M. Merchan admonished the media for reporting details about the seated and potential jurors that could be used to identify them, ordering them not to report prospective jurors’ answers to questions about their current and former employers.

“As evidenced by what’s happened already, it’s become a problem,” he said Thursday morning.

He also directed reporters to “abide by common sense” and avoid writing about the physical characteristics of the people called to serve.

“We just lost what probably would have been a very good juror,” the judge continued. “She said she was afraid and intimidated by the press, all the press.”

PREVIOUSLY SEATED JUROR EXCUSED, CITING IMPARTIALITY CONCERNS

A juror who had been selected for Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial was dismissed Thursday after she told the court she’d become concerned about her ability to be impartial.

Although the jurors’ names are being kept confidential, the woman, a nurse, “conveyed that after sleeping on it overnight she had concerns about her ability to be fair and impartial in this case,” Judge Juan M. Merchan said before calling her into the room for questioning.

The woman said her family members and friends were questioning her about being a juror.

With the woman’s dismissal, the total number of seated jurors dropped to six. Attorneys now need to pick 12 more people to serve on the panel that will decide the former president’s criminal case.

Merchan admonished the media for reporting details about the jurors that could be used to identify them.

“There’s a reason that this is an anonymous jury,” Merchan said. “It kind of defeats the purpose of that when so much information is put out there that it is very easy for anyone to identify who the jurors are.”

“The press is certainly entitled to write about anything that’s said on the record because it’s on the record,” Merchan said, but he added that he’s directing reporters to “abide by common sense” and not do things like writing about physical characteristics of the people called to serve.

TRUMP ARRIVES IN COURT AS TRIAL RESUMES

Donald Trump sat at the defense table in a Manhattan courtroom Thursday morning, talking on a cell phone for about 30 seconds before his lawyers came over and put it away.

Trump looked sternly ahead while being photographed, a stark contrast from a moment earlier when he was casually chatting with lawyer Todd Blanche before the photographers arrived.

While the trial cannot be televised, Judge Juan M. Merchan is allowing a handful of still photographers to shoot photos of Trump before each day’s proceedings start.

Harvey Weinstein was famously admonished for playing with his phone by a different judge during his trial in the same courtroom four years ago.

Trump’s cell phone usage happened while court was not in session and before the judge had taken the bench.

Generally, cell phone usage – and certainly making or taking calls – is prohibited in New York courtrooms.

TRUMP HEADS TO COURT FOR ANOTHER DAY OF JURY SELECTION

Former president Donald Trump has left Trump Tower, on his way to court in Manhattan on Thursday for another day of jury selection in his criminal hush money trial.

The jury selection process has moved swifter than expected, prompting Trump when departing the courthouse on Tuesday to complain to reporters that the judge, Juan M. Merchan, was “rushing” the trial.

Merchan has suggested that opening statements could start on Monday.

JURY SELECTION MARKS A CRITICAL PHASE IN THE TRIAL

The seating of the Manhattan jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial will be a seminal moment in the case, setting the stage for a trial that will place the former president’s legal jeopardy at the heart of the campaign against Democrat Joe Biden and feature potentially unflattering testimony about Trump’s private life in the years before he became president.

The process of picking a jury is a critical phase of any criminal trial but especially so when the defendant is a former U.S. commander-in-chief and the presumptive Republican nominee for this year’s presidential election.

Inside the court, there’s broad acknowledgment of the futility in trying to find jurors without knowledge of Trump, with a prosecutor this week saying that lawyers were not looking for people who had been “living under a rock for the past eight years.”

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