A Trump trial juror was dismissed after she said she was worried her identity was being revealed


  • Donald Trump’s criminal hush-money trial in New York is struggling to keep its jurors.

  • Two of the seven jurors who had been sworn in have now been excused.

  • “I don’t believe at this point I can be fair and unbiased,” one juror told the judge.

Before Thursday, former President Donald Trump’s first trial seemed to be running ahead of schedule.

Jury selection was widely expected to last two weeks, part of an overall six-week trial. But by Tuesday, seven out of twelve jurors were sworn in, putting the trial on track to kick off with opening statements next Monday.

On Thursday, though, the proceedings faced a setback.

One juror dropped out, telling the court she had “concerns about her ability to be fair and impartial” in the trial after sleeping on it.

Another juror was booted from the case under more mysterious circumstances.

After a prosecutor said the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office found records that he may have taken a plea deal in the 1990s — and therefore wasn’t forthcoming about his experience with the law in his questionnaire earlier this week — the judge held a discussion with the juror and lawyers out of earshot from the press.

He said the conversation would be sealed from the public court record and excused him from the case.

Prosecutors have accused Trump of 34 counts of falsifying business records with hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, keeping her quiet ahead of the 2016 election about an affair she says she had with him.

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan is trying to suss out if prospective jurors harbor some beliefs against or in support of Trump that would prevent them from deciding the case impartially.

Around half of the prospective jurors so far have filtered themselves out by saying they couldn’t be impartial. The rest are asked to answer a 42-part jury questionnaire, as well as questions from prosecutors and Trump’s lawyers, to help the judge decide whether they should get a seat on the jury.

Two Trump jurors were dismissed

Merchan said Thursday morning that the woman sworn in Tuesday and known as “Juror No. 2” called the court on Wednesday with fresh doubts. In court Thursday, she told the judge that she was concerned about her identity possibly being revealed to the public.

“Yesterday alone I have had friends, family push things to my phone regarding questioning my identity as a juror,” the juror then told the judge in the courtroom.

“I don’t believe at this point I can be fair and unbiased,” the woman explained before Merchan dismissed her from the case.

Merchan then scolded the press for revealing details about the woman during the jury selection process this week.

“There’s a reason why this is an anonymous jury, and we’ve taken the measures that we’ve taken,” Merchan said when he addressed the press and encouraged them to use “common sense.”

“It kind of defeats the purpose of that when so much information is put out there that makes it very, very easy to find out who they are,” the judge said.

Merchan said that the juror who was excused “said she was afraid and intimidated by all the press.”

“We just lost what may have been a very good juror,” Merchan added.

Joshua Steinglass, one of the prosecutors, then raised an issue with the man who was previously sworn in as “Juror No. 4.”

He said someone with the same name had been arrested in the 1990s “for tearing down political advertisements” that were “on the political right.”

The juror or his wife was also “previously involved in a criminal inquiry and entered in deferred prosecution agreement with Manhattan DA’s office,” Steinglass said.

Merchan discussed the issue in a sidebar conference with the juror, Trump’s lawyers, and prosecutors, which mostly could not be heard by reporters in the room. According to pool reporters in the courtroom, the juror gesticulated with his hands and appeared annoyed.

After two sidebar conferences — which the judge said would be sealed in the court transcript because “it was very personal information that was elicited” — Merchan excused him from sitting on the jury.

“I will also note for the record that he expressed annoyance at how much information was available to the public,” Merchan said.

That brings the number of seated jurors back down to five.

Jury selection remains ongoing.

This story has been updated.

Read the original article on Business Insider



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