Your Case. Our Cause.

Federal Criminal Lawyer Michael Leonard on Trump Jury Questionnaire in Trump jury selection process

by | Apr 17, 2024 | Firm News

Federal Criminal Lawyer Michael Leonard on Trump Jury Questionnaire in Trump jury selection process. President Trump’s State Court trial in Manhattan is underway – at least the jury selection process in that case has begun. A number of people have asked me, and many have commented in the media, about the Juror Questionnaire that is being utilized in that case. Some have indicated that it is intrusive, and some have called it exhaustive. The Questionnaire in the Trump case consists of some 42 questions; however, many of them contain sub-parts.

The reality is that such Questionnaires are commonly used in State and Federal criminal trials across the country. They are a tool to elicit information that would otherwise have to be laboriously elicited from each juror in a verbal fashion. So, in one sense, it is a significant time saver.

More importantly, the Questionnaire is a mechanism to streamline the juror selection process in other ways. For example, the Trump Questionnaire, like many others, inquires about the potential jurors’ availability to serve; for example, the Questionnaire is designed in part to ferret out those who may have limitations, already planned travel, and other commitments that make it difficult, if not impossible to serve. Rather than have such jurors extensively questioned, and then discharged from service, the attorneys and the Judge can address the alleged limitations of such jurors and dismiss them, if appropriate, without wasting time extensively questioning them on other issues.

The Questionnaire further serves to elicit what attorneys and the Court consider to be important demographic information, such as employment history, military history, area of residence, family member information, etc. That type of information can be readily and easily provided in writing by the potential jurors, without the need for drawn out questioning of them. The attorneys and the Court can then use that already provided information as a tool for additional verbal questing and follow-up.

Finally, some of the other important functions of the Questionnaire in the Trump case, which is unlike others in important respects, is to begin to elicit information that will hopefully provide insight into the “leanings” of potential jurors, i.e., a variety of questions that really all seek to get at the very same information: what information can be provided that might suggest whether a particular juror might have a bias in favor of, or against, Trump. Of course, the preliminary information provided with regard to that issue in the Questionnaire can then be the subject of extensive verbal questioning by the attorneys for both sides, as well as the Judge, in an attempt to determine whether a particular potential juror can be “fair and impartial.”

In sum, the only real differences between the Questionnaire being utilized in the Trump case and the typical Questionnaire in an “average” criminal case are: 1) the deep inquiries attempting to ascertain particular views and exposure to this very well-known Defendant – which may have resulted in explicit and implicit biases for or against him, and 2) the inquiries designed to expose whether potential jurors have been exposed to or influenced by information, positive or negative, regarding this particular case.

If you would like to see the types of questions on Juror Questionnaires from one of Leonard Trial Lawyers’ cases, we would be happy to provide you with one.

Michael Leonard

Leonard Trial Lawyers

April 17, 2024