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Selecting a Jury in Manhattan: The Craft of Intuition

Ex US President Donald Trump (Credits: Newsweek)

The “hush money” election-interference case involving former President Trump may seem like a minor aspect among his four indictments, but its implications are profound.

It’s tempting to brush off the New York charges against Trump — his alleged manipulation of business records to conceal payments to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign — as minor compared to accusations of undermining democracy and compromising national security.

However, there’s a compelling argument that this alleged interference could have influenced the 2016 election outcome, decided by a slim margin of just 80,000 votes across three states. Some view it as a precursor to the events of January 6th.

Donald J. Trump (Credits: ABC News)

According to constitutional principles, the trial of such a serious crime begins with jury selection. If I were the prosecutor, I’d seek intelligent, college-educated jurors capable of comprehending the facts and legal instructions.

Conversely, Trump’s defense might aim for a heterogeneous jury, less likely to reach a unanimous verdict, possibly sympathetic to claims of a “witch hunt.”

The potential evidence against Trump is damning. He faces 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying business records, orchestrating a “catch and kill” scheme with American Media, Inc., and arranging hush money payments to silence damaging stories before the election. Trump denies these allegations and is presumed innocent under the law.

Jury selection in Manhattan presents challenges due to prevalent anti-Trump sentiment. Trump’s negligible support in Manhattan and previous adverse verdicts in New York trials suggest a bias against him. Excusing jurors who cannot be impartial is crucial, but it’s a slow process, with many potential jurors expressing bias upfront.

Ex President Donald Trump (Credits: Business Insider)

Remaining jurors undergo rigorous scrutiny, answering questions about their backgrounds, news sources, and affiliations with extremist groups. Absent is a question on belief in the 2020 election outcome, a missed opportunity.

As jury selection progresses, the goal is to secure a panel without prejudice, focusing solely on the evidence and the judge’s instructions. However, trials involving public figures often face challenges, with jurors’ biases and emotions potentially clouding judgment. In the end, a jury trial remains unpredictable, but justice remains the ultimate goal.

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