Jury Selection Completed in Trump NY Criminal Case

The milestone sets up opening arguments for Monday.
Former US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before entering the courtroom in his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York Ci... Former US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before entering the courtroom in his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on April 19, 2024. A panel of 12 jurors was sworn in on April 18, 2024, for the unprecedented criminal trial of a former US president. (Photo by Maansi Srivastava / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MAANSI SRIVASTAVA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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Barring any further unexpected developments, opening arguments in Donald Trump’s criminal trial will start in Monday.

A full panel of jurors — including 12 members of the panel and six alternates — was chosen on Friday afternoon, after a bizarre but quicker-than-anticipated jury selection process which began on Monday.

Justice Juan Merchan said that selection was finished after the court spent Friday choosing a final five alternate jurors.

Later during the Friday hearing, Merchan sternly told Trump’s attorneys that they had to stop filing pre-motions and motions asking him to reconsider rulings he had already made around the case.

“We’re going to have opening statements on Monday morning,” Merchan said. “This trial is starting.”

Overall, the panel represents a cross-section of Manhattan. The foreperson described himself as working in retail; other jurors include a schoolteacher, attorneys, and a physical therapist.

It’s a roughly equal mix of men and women on the panel of twelve. While they tend to be highly educated (seven jurors have advanced post-graduate degrees), they fall across the spectrum: one juror, a security engineer, completed high school; the foreperson, a male, completed some college. The main panel also includes two attorneys and two people with MBA degrees.

The jurors are mostly middle-aged, but include some outliers: a retired wealth manager, a retail worker on the younger side.

The process of selecting the group saw two already-seated jurors be excused. One, an oncology nurse, did so voluntarily, telling Merchan that she had been inundated with texts from friends and family members asking if she was a juror assigned to the case. The other failed to disclose on the jury questionnaire that he and his wife had both had prior run-ins with the law; that juror reportedly called Merchan “cowardly” for dismissing him.

The process also saw Trump and his attorneys call the pool’s impartiality into question, suggesting throughout that fairly anodyne expressions of political perspective were evidence of disqualifying bias.

Of the prospective jurors who went out of their way to state that they believed “nobody is above the law,” none made it onto the final panal or became one of the alternates. One juror serving as an alternate specified that he believed Trump has so far been treated “fairly” by the judicial system.

The alternates represent an equally diverse group of professions — they include a former EMT, an estimator for a construction firm, an investment analyst, a creative for a clothing company, and the former employee of a company which focused on the “Hispanic market.” They also include a wide range of educational attainment, including one alternate with an associates degree, another who completed high school, and others with higher education.

Now that the panel is selected, opening arguments are scheduled to begin on Monday morning. That will mark the start of the prosecution’s case, which they expect to last several weeks.

Merchan has allowed prosecutors to keep their witnesses — and the order in which they will appear — undisclosed for now. But filings and statements in court show that prosecutors will likely call major figures from the hush money scandal, including Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, tabloid executives, and others.

Before opening arguments begin on Monday, Merchan said, he will rule on what prosecutors will be able to ask Trump about if he chooses to take the stand. A hearing on that question was held Friday afternoon. Prosecutors want to be able to use several civil court cases that he’s defended against — and one he filed but which resulted in sanctions for him — to impeach his credibility.

Selecting a jury was the last milestone before the meat of the first criminal trial of a former President can commence. It will see Trump continue to spend weeks under the constraints of a criminal defendant, sitting before a judge and jury waiting to decide whether he’s guilty of business records violations in connection with an attempt to interfere in the 2016 election.

Nearly simultaneously with Merchan announcing the jury’s selection, a man set himself on fire outside of the courthouse. It cast a sickly smell over the scene as the assembled press filed out.

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