May 30th, 2024

The Latest | Appeals court judge rejects bid for temporary stay in Trump’s hush money trial

By The Associated Press on April 19, 2024.

NEW YORK (AP) – A jury of 12 people and six alternates was seated on Friday in former President Donald Trump’s hush money criminal case.

The completion of jury selection sets the stage for opening statements in the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president to begin Monday, as well as weeks of testimony in a case charging Trump with falsifying business records to suppress stories about his sex life emerging in the final days of the 2016 election.

The jury includes a sales professional, a software engineer, an English teacher and multiple lawyers.

The process initially progressed very quickly, with seven jurors seated by the end of Tuesday. But two jurors were later dismissed on Thursday, one after expressing concerns about her ability to be impartial and the other amid questions about whether he had provided accurate answers about his past during the selection process.

Shortly after the jury was seated Friday, emergency crews responded to a park across the street from the courthouse, where a person was on fire. The man was taken to a hospital where he was in critical condition in the burn unit, police said at a news conference later in the day.

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

At the heart of the allegations is a $130,000 payment made to porn actor Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer, to prevent her claims of a sexual encounter with Trump from becoming public in the final days of the 2016 race.

Prosecutors say Trump obscured the true nature of such payments in internal business documents. Trump has said none of the alleged sexual encounters occurred. He has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Currently:

– The hush money case is just one of Trump’s legal cases. See the others here

– Judge in Trump case orders media not to report where potential jurors work

– Social media searches play central role in jury selection for Trump’s trial

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

Here’s the latest:

APPEALS COURT DENIES REQUEST TO HALT HUSH MONEY CASE

An appeals court judge has once again denied a request by Donald Trump’s attorneys to halt his criminal hush money trial as they seek to have the case moved outside of Manhattan.

Justice Marsha Michael issued the ruling on Friday just minutes after a brief hearing. The arguments in the midlevel appeals court came only hours after the jury selection process concluded in Trump’s criminal trial, which is currently taking place roughly 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) south.

The ruling allows opening arguments to take place as soon as Monday in Trump’s criminal trial.

MERCHAN AGAIN REFUSES BLANKET IMMUNITY REQUEST

As a taxing week of jury selection and legal arguments neared an end with yet more back-and-forth over legal particulars, Judge Juan M. Merchan told Trump’s lawyers to stop importuning him to revisit his litany of pretrial rulings in the hush money case.

“I’ve entertained your arguments in good faith, I’ve handed down decisions, but at some point, you need to accept the court’s rulings,” Merchan said during a Friday hearing.

“There’s nothing else to clarify. There’s nothing else to reargue. We’re going to have opening statements on Monday morning. This trial is starting.”

Merchan also refused again to give Trump’s lawyers a blanket ruling excluding certain evidence from his time in the White House on presidential immunity grounds.

Rather, the judge said, Trump’s lawyers can argue for immunity on a piece-by-piece basis during the trial.

The defense has argued that three of Trump’s 2018 tweets about Michael Cohen and his 2018 financial disclosure report – all of which are publicly available – are official acts and therefore fall under presidential immunity. They also contend any testimony about official acts Trump took as president, such as the accounts of former White House staff, should be excluded.

TRUMP’S LAWYERS FIGHT TO KEEP HIS OTHER CASES OUT OF HUSH MONEY TRIAL

Donald Trump’s lawyers are fighting to keep prosecutors in his hush money case from questioning him, if he testifies, about the outcome of his recent civil fraud trial as well as a separate defamation case.

In the fraud trial, state Judge Arthur Engoron found that Trump, his company and key executives deceived bankers and insurers for years by grossly padding his wealth on financial statements used to secure loans and coverage.

In the second case, a jury found that Trump defamed writer E. Jean Carroll after she accused him of sexual assault years earlier.

Trump lawyer Emil Bove argued those allegations, dating to the 1990s, are “too attenuated, too far back in time to call into question President Trump’s credibility at this trial.”

Trump has said he wants to testify at the hush money trial, but he is not required to and can always change his mind.

Judge Juan M. Merchan said he would reserve judgment on whether prosecutors can ask Trump about his past legal setbacks if he chooses to testify.

Merchan said he would issue a decision in the coming days.

TRUMP LAWYER ARGUES FOR STAY OF TRIAL PENDING MOTION FOR CHANGE OF VENUE

An attorney for Donald Trump argued Friday in an appeals court for an interim stay of the former president’s hush money trial, say that jury selection was rushed and prevented the seating of a fair and impartial jury.

“The way that such a large cross section of people were immediately disqualified because of the biases they mentioned to the court is proof positive “¦ to the predispositions of these people,” Clifford Robert said.

Robert argued for an interim stay of the trial pending a motion to have the trial venue moved outside of Manhattan.

In a brief response, Steven Wu, the appellate chief for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, accused Trump’s attorneys of mischaracterizing the jury selection process, which he described as “unusually detailed and careful.”

He added that Trump had “amplified and stoked the very press coverage” that had caused some jurors to reconsider if they could serve impartially.

“We have 18 ordinary New Yorkers ready to serve on Monday morning when this trial should begin,” Wu added. “It would be unfair to them and it would be unfair to the public for this trial to be delayed further.”

A decision on the appeal is expected this afternoon.

JUDGE AGREES TO SEAL SOME EVIDENCE

Donald Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors in his hush money case are sparring over the prosecution’s request to seal four pieces of evidence.

This includes phone records and approximately 39,000 contacts stored in Michael Cohen’s cellphone.

Prosecutors had sought to keep that evidence out of public view because it pertained to third parties not involved in the case. Judge Juan M. Merchan agreed over the objections of Trump’s lawyers, who argued prosecutors were trying to make an end run around transparency and trampling Trump’s right to a public trial.

TRUMP BACK IN COURT

Court has resumed in Donald Trump’s hush money trial.

With jury selection complete, the former president and lawyers in the case have returned to court for a hearing on prosecutors’ desire to question the former president – if he testifies – about his recent civil court losses.

Trump raised his fist before returning to the courtroom.

MAN WHO SET HIMSELF ON FIRE ACROSS FROM COURTHOUSE IS IN CRITICAL CONDITION, POLICE SAY

The man who set himself on fire across the street from the courthouse where Donald Trump’s hush money trial is taking place is in critical condition in a burn unit, police said Friday.

The man first walked into the park around 1:30 p.m., took out pamphlets espousing conspiracy theories and spread them around the park before he doused himself in an accelerant and set himself on fire, officials said.

Officials believe the man had traveled from Florida to New York in the past few days.

Authorities said they were reviewing the security protocols outside the courthouse.

“We are very concerned. Of course we are going to review our security protocols,” Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said.

TRUMP LEGAL TEAM ASKS APPEALS COURT TO INTERVENE

Donald Trump’s legal team has asked the New York state appellate court to intervene in his hush money trial, filing another application with a midlevel appeals court on Friday.

A hearing was scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

The documents weren’t immediately publicly available, but Trump’s lawyers have gone to the appeals court before trying to get the trial delayed or moved out of Manhattan. They have argued that Trump can’t get a fair trial there because of intense publicity.

The trial judge had rejected that request.

POLICE NEWS CONFERENCE EXPECTED

New York police are expected to hold a news conference at 2:45 p.m. Friday after a man set himself on fire in the park across the street from the courthouse where Donald Trump’s hush money trial is taking place.

Passersby rushed to douse the flames and the man was rushed away on a stretcher by emergency crews.

COURT WAS

BEING DISMISSED FOR BREAK AS FIRE BROKE OUT

Judge Juan M. Merchan, seemingly unaware of what was unfolding outside the courthouse on Friday afternoon, told newly selected jurors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial that opening statements are set for Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Merchan is expected to hold a hearing Friday at 3:15 p.m. on the prosecution’s desire to question the former president, should he testify, regarding his recent civil court losses.

PERSON RUSHED AWAY ON STRETCHER AFTER FIRE EXTINGUISHED OUTSIDE COURT

Emergency crews rushed away a person on a stretcher after fire was extinguished outside the Manhattan courthouse where jury selection was taking place Friday in Donald Trump’s hush money criminal case.

No other details were immediately available from police.

A full jury of 12 people and six alternates had been seated in Trump’s hush money case just minutes earlier, drawing the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president a step closer to opening statements.

FULL JURY OF 12 PEOPLE AND 6 ALTERNATES SEATED

A jury of 12 people and six alternates was seated on Friday in former President Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial.

The completion of the jury selection process tees up the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president for opening statements and weeks of testimony in a case charging Trump with falsifying business records to suppress stories about his sex life emerging in the final days of the 2016 election.

The jury includes a sales professional, a software engineer, an English teacher and multiple lawyers.

THIRD AND FOURTH ALTERNATES SELECTED

Two more alternates in Donald Trump’s hush money case have been selected, leaving just two more alternate juror slots to be filled.

SECOND ALTERNATE JUROR PICKED

A second alternate juror has been selected in Donald Trump’s hush money case. The individual joins the other 12 jurors and the first alternate who were sworn in during jury selection proceedings on Thursday. Four more alternates are still needed.

An alternate juror listens to the testimony, just like all the other jurors, but doesn’t join in the deliberations unless one of the main jurors needs to drop out or is removed.

MORE WOULD-BE JURORS EXCUSED

Another individual was dismissed from jury selection in Donald Trump’s criminal trial Friday after blurting out that she felt anxious during a separate panelist’s questioning.

“With this line of questioning, I’m getting the same anxiety and self-doubt” that other excused jurors were raising, the woman said.

Her comment came as Trump lawyer Susan Necheles asked a different jury candidate several questions about her ability to fairly evaluate the credibility of a witness like ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who went to prison for lying to Congress and other crimes.

At least a half-dozen potential jurors have been excused from consideration during the fourth day of jury selection, with several citing anxiety and nervousness brought on by potentially being connected to the high-profile trial.

SELECTION PROCESS IS PUSHING SOME POTENTIAL JURORS TO BREAKING POINTS

Over the past few days, more than a couple of prospective jurors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial have highlighted the stress and anxiety they have felt during the selection process.

One woman was being questioned Friday by a prosecutor about her ability to decide the case based only on courtroom evidence when she began to cry.

“I feel so nervous and anxious right now,” the woman said through tears. “I’m so sorry. I wouldn’t want someone who feels like this to judge my case either. I don’t want to waste the court’s time. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”

After conferring briefly with the prosecution and defense, Judge Juan M. Merchan dismissed the woman from consideration.

The outsized media attention and public interest in the case isn’t the only thing driving some would-be jurors to their breaking points, though. Those called into the courtroom are also answering a lengthy list of personal questions, revealing details about their family life and brushes with the law that have stirred other emotional responses.

METALWORKING, BOXING AND MORE AMONG POTENTIAL JURORS’ HOBBIES

A section of the questionnaire asking would-be jurors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial what they like to do in their spare time has revealed an eclectic array of hobbies and passions.

During the week, the court has been introduced to Manhattanites who enjoy metalworking, scuba diving and seeing the New York Philharmonic. There were also several yogis, hikers and one man who said he cleans his local dog park as “meditation.”

One woman said she takes her kids to Rubik’s Cube competitions and another said she used to be an amateur boxer, though noted that “black eyes were frowned upon” in her profession. Earlier in the week, a different prospective juror joked that he had no spare time, adding later, “I guess my hobby is my family.”

POTENTIAL JUROR REPORTS CONNECTIONS TO SOME PEOPLE IN TRUMP’S ORBIT

New York is the most populous city in the U.S., but Donald Trump’s hush money trial has shown that it can also feel a lot like a small town.

One prospective juror said she had connections to not one but two people who’ve been in Trump’s orbit: the former president’s ex-lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who backed Trump in 2020 but later ran against him.

The woman disclosed that she works at the same company as a Cohen relative – though they’ve never crossed paths – and that someone in her family is friends with Christie. Despite that, she assured the court that she could be fair and impartial.

QUESTIONNAIRE PHASE BEGINS AGAIN

The latest questionnaire round in jury selection in Donald Trump’s hush money trial began Friday with a prospective juror saying she has anxiety and isn’t sure she can serve. She said that she takes medication for the condition and that as more days pass, “I don’t think I will be able to be completely fair” and focused on the trial.

Judge Juan M. Merchan excused her.

Because 22 prospective jurors are being questioned, Merchan granted a prosecutor’s request for five extra minutes of questioning. Instead of 20 minutes, prosecutors will have 25 questions to inquire of the group.

Another potential juror, a woman with adult children, said she doesn’t believe in watching the news. She added that her husband sends her news that seems important and that she has no strong opinions on Trump.

As potential jurors ran through the questionnaire, Trump appeared to lean over at the defense table, scribbling on some papers and occasionally exchanging notes with his lawyers.

But when another potential juror mentioned that he follows the White House Instagram account, including when Trump was in office, the former president looked up and toward the jury box.

COURT IS IN SESSION

Donald Trump shuffled through papers at the defense table Friday morning after walking into Manhattan court for the fourth day of jury selection in his hush money trial.

He turned stoic and stern as news photographers came in to snap pictures of him, as is the daily custom before court resumes.

Twenty-two possible jurors are being brought in as jury selection is set to resume. As many as five alternate jurors must be selected before jury selection is over. One alternate was already sworn in at the end of the day Thursday.

AS HUSH MONEY TRIAL REACHES DAY 4, TRUMP LOSES BID TO HALT SEPARATE JAN. 6 LAWSUITS

Donald Trump lost a bid Thursday to pause a string of lawsuits accusing him of inciting the U.S. Capitol attack, while the former president fights his 2020 election interference criminal case in Washington.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington denied defense lawyers’ request to put the civil cases seeking to hold Trump responsible for the Jan. 6, 2021, riot on hold while a separate criminal case accusing him of conspiring to overturn his election defeat to President Joe Biden plays out.

The lawsuits brought by Democratic lawmakers and police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 seek civil damages for harm they say they suffered during the attack, which aimed to stop Congress’ certification of Biden’s victory.

“˜THE GAG ORDER HAS TO COME OFF,’ TRUMP SAYS

Speaking to reporters inside the lower Manhattan courthouse, former President Donald Trump once again railed against his hush money trial, demanding Judge Juan M. Merchan lift a gag order limiting what he can say publicly about witnesses.

“The gag order has to come off. People are allowed to speak about me and I have a gag order,” he said.

Prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office are currently looking to fine Trump over violating his gag order after disparaging witnesses in the case on social media. A hearing is set for next week.

TRUMP ARRIVES AT COURT FOR MORE JURY SELECTION

Donald Trump raised his right fist as he headed to his motorcade while leaving Trump Tower on Friday.

Soon afterward, the former president arrived at the court in Manhattan where more potential jurors will be questioned in his hush money case.

THIRD PANEL OF POTENTIAL JURORS TO BE QUESTIONED

A third panel of potential jurors will be questioned Friday in Donald Trump’s hush money case, drawing jury selection a step closer to completion.

After a jury of 12 New Yorkers was seated Thursday, lawyers were expected to turn their attention to picking remaining alternates who can vow to set aside their personal views and impartially judge the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Judge Juan M. Merchan has suggested that opening statements in the criminal trial could begin as early as Monday.

Trump has pleaded not guilty.

The trial will place Trump in a Manhattan courtroom for weeks, forcing him to juggle his dual role as criminal defendant and political candidate against the backdrop of his hotly contested race against President Joe Biden.

IN COURT THURSDAY, THE JUROR COUNT REMAINED SHIFTY

Jury selection in Donald Trump’s hush money case proceeded at a plodding pace Thursday when two of the initial seven seated jurors were dismissed.

But late in the day, lawyers settled on the remaining seven in quick succession, along with one alternate. Judge Juan M. Merchan has said his goal is to have five additional alternates.

Even with the roster of 12 jurors set, it’s still possible that the lineup may change as proceedings continue Friday.

TRUMP’S LEGAL ENTANGLEMENTS COULD BE A TRIAL ISSUE

Judge Juan M. Merchan was expected to hold a hearing Friday to consider a request from prosecutors to bring up Donald Trump’s prior legal entanglements if he takes the stand in the hush money case.

Manhattan prosecutors have said they want to question Trump about his recent civil fraud trial that resulted in a $454 million judgment after a judge found Trump had lied about his wealth for years. He is appealing that verdict.

Trump says he did nothing wrong and has cast himself as the victim of a politically motivated justice system bent on keeping him out of the White House. He has lashed out on social media about the judge, prosecutors and potential witnesses, prompting the district attorneys to seek sanctions for possible violations of a gag order in the criminal case.

After Thursday’s court proceedings, Trump complained to reporters that he should have been out campaigning but was in court instead for what he said was a “very unfair trial.”

“Everybody’s outraged by it,” he said. “You know the whole world’s watching this New York scam.”

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