Hear what jurors in Trump Org. trial said about Trump
An (impartial) jury in the criminal tax fraud and grand larceny trial against the Trump Organization has been selected, consisting of eight men and four women. Is it Possible?
The Manhattan district attorney's tax fraud lawsuit against the Trump Organization began jury selection on Monday. Allen Weisselberg, the company's former chief financial officer, previously pled guilty to tax fraud charges.
Former President Donald Trump has not been charged individually, but his family firm is accused of running a 15-year plan to assist executives in evading taxes by concealing a percentage of their compensation. It was stated on the trial's opening day that Trump and some of his children might be summoned as witnesses.
Finding impartial jurors will surely be difficult in a case where many, if not most, New Yorkers have followed the story and have strong opinions about Trump. Furthermore, most New Yorkers are aware that state Attorney General Letitia James has filed civil proceedings against the Trump Organization based on similar allegations of financial mismanagement. Furthermore, Trump has been summoned by a House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol rebellion for his suspected role in instigating the assault.
Finding impartial jurors to weigh the evidence is not impossible in this instance, despite the difficulties. It would be incorrect to assume that any jury would be irredeemably biased, such that the verdict could not be relied on, or that the screening methods would allow only the most uneducated people to serve.
Manhattan's current jury selection process began with a bias test of 132 potential jurors. Any witness who admits to having formed pre-trial opinions regarding Trump or the media-reported information against the Trump Organization may be rejected by the trial judge. In reality, case law urges courts to select jurors who have "empty... minds" and "no awareness" of the persons or events under consideration.
Dismissing every possible juror based only on their daily news consumption would be pointless. It would be impossible to believe in the competence of a jury whose distinguishing feature was ignorance. It would be futile to look for jurors who have strong feelings about Trump's character. This would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Judges do not immediately dismiss persons who read the news. In practice, few trial judges ask jurors to do the impossible. Judges may also use voir dire to ask jurors individually about their prior knowledge of the case. However, jurors are carefully questioned to assess whether they still have an open mind about the tried conditions.