As We Barrel Headlong Into Trump’s First Criminal Trial, Biased Judge Merchan Releases Jury Questions

Published April 9,  2024

The first criminal trial against former president Donald Trump is slated to begin April 15, and late Monday afternoon, Judge Juan Merchan released the questionnaire he plans to use to oversee jury selection for the trial.

“Do you have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about whether a former president may be criminally charged in a state court?” asks one question. “Do you have any feelings about how Mr. Trump is being treated in this case?”

I almost want to say no; I’ve been living in a cave for the last decade, I have no feelings of any kind about the oncoming proceedings.

Trump and his lawyers had tried to delay the trial but have been repeatedly rejected by various judges:

Judge Merchan wants to know if potential jurors have any feelings whatsoever about the former president and current GOP presumptive nominee in the presidential race.

Prosecutive jurors will be asked if they have ever attended one of Trump’s rallies, if they belong to groups like the Proud Boys or Antifa, or if they volunteered with a political entity associated with the former president.

“Do you have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about whether a former president may be criminally charged in a state court?” one question asks. “Do you have any feelings about how Mr. Trump is being treated in this case?”

Other questions ask if prosecutive jurors have read any of Trump’s books, can set aside their past knowledge of the case, or have opinions on the legal limits related to political contributions.

I’ve served on several juries—and am proud to report that I was the foreman on one of them—but often I got the feeling they want the least-informed people on the planet to weigh in. Obviously, judges don’t want to seat biased jurors, but sometimes the lengths they resort to are almost comical. Who in the United States doesn’t have an opinion on Donald Trump, one way or the other?



RELATED: Judge releases jury questionnaire in Trump hush money trial

Former President Trump in New York City last month. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Published April 9,  2024

The judge overseeing former President Trump’s hush money trial released on Monday a questionnaire that he plans to use in the New York case’s jury selection process.

The big picture: State Judge Juan Merchan outlined in a letter the 42 questions he’ll use to select 12 jurors, after an appeals court rejected Trump’s latest attempt to delay the trial that’s scheduled to start with jury selection on April 15.

  • Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree in the case, which stems from a 2016 payment he’s accused of making to adult film actor Stormy Daniels.

Zoom in: Merchan rejected arguments from Trump’s legal team that potential jurors should be asked whether they like the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

  • “Such questions are irrelevant because they do not go to the issue of the prospective juror’s qualifications,” Merchan wrote, according to the letter to prosecutors and the defense.
  • However, potential jurors will be asked whether they have any feelings or opinions about how Trump is being treated in the case, brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and about the media they read or watch.
  • Other questions include whether a prospective juror is a member of an extremist movement such as QAnon or the Proud Boys.

Read: Acting New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan’s letter in full, via DocumentCloud (juror questionnaire starts on page 11):

Go deeper: Trump: Would be a “great honor” to be jailed for gag order violation



RELATED: Trump Jurors Will Be Asked About Antifa, QAnon, Truth Social

  • Potential jurors face at least 42 questions proposed by judge
  • Separately, appellate judge rejects Trump bid to delay trial
Donald Trump in a courtroom at Manhattan criminal court in New York on March 25. Photographer: Mary Altaffer/AP/Bloomberg
Published April 9,  2024

Potential jurors at Donald Trump’s first criminal trial will be asked whether they belong to fringe groups like Antifa and QAnon, as well as whether they’ve been to rallies supporting or opposing the former president.

Justice Juan Merchan included the questions in a letter Monday to lawyers for Trump and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the case. The document was released just before an appeals court judge rejected an attempt by Trump to delay the trial over claims that a New York City jury can’t be impartial.

Bragg alleges Trump falsified dozens of business records to conceal a hush money payment to a porn star before the 2016 election to keep her quiet about an alleged affair. The payoff was part of an alleged scheme to influence the 2016 election by preventing salacious stories about Trump from being published.

The questionnaire is similar to those in Trump’s two civil trials earlier this year, both of which he lost. But more is at stake in Trump’s first criminal trial, and lawyers on both sides will be under intense pressure to select jurors who can be fair, even if they hold strong opinions about a former president who’s a particularly divisive defendant and a candidate to return to the White House.

The proposed list hints at how contentious the jury selection process may be when the trial starts April 15. It could take up to two weeks to pick a jury, or about a quarter of the trial.

Among other things, potential jurors will also be asked if they use Trump’s social-media platform Truth Social, whose parent company has lost billions of dollars in market value since it started trading publicly two weeks ago. They’ll also be asked if they belong to any anti-Trump groups or if they have any “feelings of opinions about how Mr. Trump is being treated in this case?”

Possible jurors will also be asked if they have ever attended a rally or campaign event for Trump, if they have a relative or close friend who volunteered for his campaign and if they’ve ever followed Trump on social media. Panelists will also be asked if they have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about whether a former president may be criminally charged in state court.

Just after Merchan released the questionnaire, an appeals court judge rejected Trump’s attempt to delay the trial, or move it out of Manhattan entirely, citing recent polling and “a quantitative analysis of media coverage shows that a fair and impartial cannot be selected. Bragg had argued that Trump’s survey showed that most of the island’s inhabitants are confident they can deliver a verdict based only on the evidence.





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Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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