Judge releases questionnaire for jury selection process in Trump hush-money trial

Written by on April 9, 2024

Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at a rally on Apr. 2, 2024, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(WASHINGTON) — As Donald Trump’s lawyers on Monday afternoon attempted to convince an appellate judge that a fair jury selection could not happen in a Manhattan courtroom, the judge overseeing the former president’s criminal trial, Judge Juan Merchan, released the questionnaire he plans to use to oversee jury selection for the trial, which is scheduled to begin on April 15.

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.

“Do you have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about former President Donald Trump or the fact that he is a current candidate for president that would interfere with your ability to be a fair or impartial juror?” another question asked.

Jurors will also be asked standard preliminary questions, including their marital status, employment status, hobbies, criminal history and potential scheduling conflicts. Merchan, borrowing from an approach taken for the Trump Organization criminal trial, opted to excuse any jurors who self-identify as unfair or partial.

“This Court finds, after careful consideration of the circumstances of this case, that requiring individual inquiry of every prospective juror who has already self-identified that they cannot be fair and impartial, or that they are otherwise unable to serve, is unnecessary, time-consuming and of no benefit,” Merchan wrote.

Merchan also included the summary he intends to read to the prospective jurors next week, offering them a glimpse of the months-long trial.

“The allegations are in substance that Donald Trump falsified business records to conceal an agreement with others to unlawfully influence the 2016 election. Specifically, it is alleged that Donald Trump made or concerned false business records to hide the true nature of payments to Michael Cohen, by characterizing them as payment for legal services rendered pursuant to a retainer agreement. The people allege that in fact, the payments were intended to reimburse Michael Cohen for money he paid to Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, in the weeks before the presidential election to prevent her from publicly revealing details about a past sexual encounter with Donald Trump. Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty and denies the allegations,” the summary said.

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