May 25, 2024

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Paying Stormy Daniels | The first challenge in the Trump trial: Jury selection

Paying Stormy Daniels |  The first challenge in the Trump trial: Jury selection

(New York) “Have you ever attended a Donald Trump rally or campaign event? »: Anonymous New Yorkers must answer similar questions next week to serve on a jury in the first criminal trial of a former US president.


Donald Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying documents to cover up payments to X-rated movie star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence before the 2016 presidential election, according to a prosecutor.

The Republican, again a candidate for the White House, denies any sexual relationship with Stormy Daniels and denies any fraudulent confidentiality agreement with the actress.

Filed under the caption “People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump.” Jury selection is set to begin on Monday, April 15, and hundreds of Manhattan residents have been summoned to appear in court. From them, twelve jurors and six alternates will be selected, and the trial is expected to last up to six weeks.

“Anti-Trump”?

Each potential juror, drawn at random from a public list of residents, must orally answer seven pages of questions ranging from occupation to political affiliation, the result of an agreement between prosecution and defense attorneys.

Among them: “Do you follow an anti-Trump organization or group account on social media, or have you followed one in the past? »

The questionnaire also asked if they had an opinion on Donald Trump's handling of the issue, or if they supported far-right groups that espouse the conspiracy nebula QAnon or Proud Boys white supremacism.

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Their judgment must be unanimous, hence the importance of each.

Noting that New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted for Democrats Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden in 2016 and 2020, Mr. Prosecutors prosecuting Trump, like those defending the Septuagint, will be eager to know where the jurors lean politically.

Despite being born in New York and building his real estate empire there, Donald Trump remains a controversial figure, at least in the megalopolis.

“Manhattan has a long history with Donald Trump,” recalls Leslie Ellis, a lawyer and psychologist who was among the jurors. “Not only because of his presidency and his post-presidency, but also because of his experience in real estate and business in New York before that.”

Because of this, the former president's lawyers tried in vain to delay the trial. According to them, jurors in New York would have been exposed to “enormous biased and unfair media coverage.” Some questions are related to the way they get information.

77 year old Mr. Trump continues to denounce a “witch hunt” by Democratic lawyers and judges that derailed his campaign to retake the White House in November.

“Many potential jurors are already mistakenly convinced that President Trump is guilty,” the candidate's counsel said in a submission to Judge Juan Merchon, who is presiding over the trial.

Protected Judges

But Mr. Alvin Bragg, the district attorney who filed the charges against Trump, is pushing that idea aside. “Considering the size of New York County, it is absurd for the defendant to assert that it would be impossible or impracticable to find a dozen fair and impartial judges and alternates among a population of more than a million,” said Mr. Bragg said.

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Either way, the constitution of the jury promises to be more complicated than usual. Judge Merson has already ruled that the names of jurors will be kept confidential because of “the potential for bribery, jury manipulation, physical harm or harassment.”

The justices warned Donald Trump that he could decide not to send the judges' names to his lawyers if he violated his order to remain silent outside the hearings, specifically banning criticism of witnesses or court staff.

Such a decision would have limited Mr. Will disable Trump's security. Like prosecutors, the ex-businessman's lawyers will challenge this or that arbitrator to prevent it.

According to Leslie Ellis, while it may seem hard to believe someone as high-profile as Donald Trump, there are certainly potential jurors who can say in good faith that they don't know much about the case.