NYC Trial: Trump’s Jury Selection Process Concludes with 12 Jurors

The jury selection process for former US President Donald Trump’s landmark criminal trial in New York City is complete, with a full panel of 12 jurors sworn in.

“We have our jury,” declared Justice Juan Merchan, announcing the selection of seven men and five women for the panel. Earlier, two jurors had been excused from the process.

Despite expectations that jury selection might extend over several weeks, the process moved swiftly after Mr. Trump’s legal team exhausted their challenges.

Opening arguments in the trial could commence as early as Monday.

The trial marks the first instance of a former US president standing as a defendant, sparked by a hush-money payment made to a porn star.

Stormy Daniels received $130,000 (£105,000) prior to the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair with Mr. Trump—an accusation that Mr. Trump vehemently denies.

While the payment itself was not unlawful, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, has brought forth 34 charges of falsifying business records against Mr. Trump, who maintains his innocence.

Exiting the courthouse on Thursday evening, Mr. Trump displayed numerous printed media articles criticizing the charges, which he dismissed as “political.”

“It’s a very unfair, very bad thing,” remarked the Republican, set to challenge President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in November’s election for the White House.

“The whole world is watching this hoax,” he exclaimed, also criticizing the courtroom temperature as “freezing in there.”

The day’s jury-selection process encountered an initial setback when Justice Merchan dismissed two seated panel members.

The judge revealed that Juror #2 had concluded she could no longer maintain impartiality after friends and family learned from media reports of her jury selection. They inundated her with messages, causing her to doubt her ability to remain fair and unbiased in the courtroom.

“I don’t believe I can be fair and unbiased at this point,” she acknowledged, citing the challenge of not allowing external opinions to influence her courtroom decisions.

Justice Merchan promptly excused her and implemented restrictions on the information reporters could use to describe jurors, aiming to make them less identifiable.

“We just lost what likely would have been a very good juror for this case,” he remarked.

She was not the only one dismissed.

Justice Merchan disclosed that upon further investigation, lawyers from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office found that Juror #4 may have been untruthful about having no criminal history.

It emerged that he had been arrested in the 1990s for removing political advertisements, and there were indications that his wife was linked to a corruption case under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Following a detailed and private deliberation with the legal teams and Justice Merchan, this juror was excused.

Jeremy Saland, a former prosecutor with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office now in criminal defense, described it as “highly unusual” for jurors to be seated and then dismissed within 48 hours.

Anna Cominsky, a professor at New York Law School, highlighted that the day’s proceedings signaled this was no ordinary criminal case, and the pressure on those involved would be unprecedented.

“The real issue here is not just concealing jurors’ or potential jurors’ identifying information from the parties,” she explained. “It’s about shielding that information from the public. That’s the distinction.”

The quest for impartial and willing jurors continued into the afternoon as a fresh group of 96 potential jurors were ushered into the courtroom.

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