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Is the potential jury in Trump’s trial already biased? Judge sets strict guidelines for jury questions in New York hush-money case


In the high-profile legal battle involving former President Donald Trump, strict guidelines have been established for selecting jurors in his upcoming New York hush-money trial, set to begin this April in Manhattan. Presiding Judge Juan Merchan has placed firm restrictions on what can be asked of potential jurors, specifically prohibiting any inquiries into their voting intentions, history, or political contributions.

Is the jury in Trump’s trial already biased? Judge sets strict guidelines for jury questions in New York hush-money case

The Charge and the Constraints

Donald Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. These charges relate to alleged efforts to conceal a payment to Stormy Daniels, a former adult-film actress, ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Daniels claims she had sexual relations with Trump in 2006, which Trump vehemently denies. The former president has entered a plea of not guilty to all charges.

As the trial approaches, with jury selection critical to the proceedings, Judge Merchan has outlined that both the defense and prosecution will be unable to question jurors about their political leanings directly. This measure is intended to ensure that jurors can remain impartial and decide the case based solely on the evidence presented during the trial.

Details of the Jury Selection Process

On April 8, Judge Merchan detailed the jury selection process in a communication to the legal teams involved. The trial, scheduled to start on April 15, will see jurors being asked a pre-approved list of 42 questions, developed in consultation with both sides of the legal aisle. These questions will cover various topics from personal background and past legal experiences to potential biases and media consumption habits.

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However, specific questions about jurors’ political affiliations are off-limits. Judge Merchan emphasized, “There are no questions asking prospective jurors whom they voted for or intend to vote for, or whom they have made political contributions to.” He warned the lawyers against attempting to delve deeper into the jurors’ political identities beyond what has been deemed relevant and approved.

Media Consumption and Political Rallies

Jurors will also face questions about their engagement with media and participation in political rallies. They may be asked about their involvement with certain political movements like the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Antifa, and what print publications, cable, network programs, or online media they consume, including major outlets like The New York Times, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

The backdrop of this legal drama includes attempts by Trump’s legal team to challenge Judge Merchan’s impartiality, citing the political activities of Merchan’s daughter, a consultant for progressive campaigns. This has led to an expansion of a gag order to prevent Trump from making public statements about Merchan’s family.

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As the trial date nears, the legal strategies and public statements from both sides continue to draw intense media scrutiny. Former acting solicitor general of the United States, Neal Katyal, expressed strong opinions on MSNBC, suggesting a high likelihood of Trump’s conviction. He noted Trump’s limited success in delaying the trial and predicted a swift process once it begins.

As the case unfolds, it stands as a significant episode in U.S. legal and political history, with potential implications for Trump’s future and the broader political landscape.

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