ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The federal judge presiding over Paul Manafort’s trial in Virginia delayed the start of the trial until July 31. It was scheduled to start Wednesday.
He heard arguments on the delay Monday morning and issued his ruling from the bench Monday afternoon. The judge, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis, said that written jury questionnaire would still be distributed to potential jurors on Tuesday, July 24, but that jury selection would not begin until a week later.
Manafort has sought a longer delay, but the judge granted a delay of only six days.
At the hearing, Manafort’s attorney Kevin Downing said 120,000 pages of documents had been produced in recent weeks that his team needed more time to review.
In previous court filings, Manafort had also pointed to the mid-June decision by the judge in the D.C. case, where special counsel Robert Mueller has also brought charges, to put Manafort in jail for alleged witness tampering. Manafort’s attorneys argued that Manafort’s detention, at a rural jail some two hours away from the D.C.-metropolitan area, was impeding his trial prep. Ellis responded to that issue by moving Manafort to a jail closer to the Alexandria courthouse — a decision Manafort unsuccessfully sought to reverse.
After announcing his decision Monday to delay jury selection, Ellis outlined his process for questioning the potential jurors. He said a “good deal” of his oral questioning of jurors will take place at the bench, with both parties having the opportunity to ask the judge to bring the potential jurors back for more questioning.
“We are not going to inquire into how people voted,” Ellis said. He said he would seat 16 jurors for the case, four them as alternates.
Manafort is facing charges of bank fraud and tax fraud in Virginia. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, and to the charges brought against him in D.C.
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