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Federal Trial Lawyer Michael Leonard explains dismissal of juror during Trump jury selection

by | Apr 18, 2024 | Firm News

Federal Trial Lawyer Michael Leonard explains dismissal of juror during Trump jury selection. As we, and everyone else, has been reporting on, the jury selection process in the Trump State Court criminal prosecution in Manhattan is underway. A number of jurors have already been selected, and thus “seated.” Those selected had to first fill out a common, but more exhaustive in light of the nature and publicness of this case, Juror Questionnaire – which included extensive demographic information regarding each potential juror. In addition, as is normal, the potential jurors (referred to collectively as the “venire”), were then subjected to extensive questioning by the lawyers and Judge. That too is the regular practice in any jury selection process – otherwise known as the “voir dire” process.

However, one of the jurors who had already been selected for service was dismissed yesterday by the Judge, In short, that juror expressed concern about her identity becoming known publicly. That is a legitimate concern in light of several factors: 1) that the juror had to provide various demographic information about herself as part of the selection process; 2) that information included such things as residential area and employer; 3) their is intense media scrutiny of the process and the participants; 4) their is interest public interest in the case, including in the jury selection process and the backgrounds and leanings of the potential jurors; and 5) that both “sides,” i.e., pro-Trump and anti-Trump, may have much to say about the ultimate of the case and the jurors’ roles with respect to that outcome, including possibly threats to them.

In light of those unusual factors, the Judge granted this particular juror’s request to be excused/recused from service. That decision is troublesome. It signals to other jurors – including those already selected – that the dismissed juror’s concerns have merit. It suggests to the other potential jurors, including those already seated, that their identities and deliberations may indeed subject them to public scrutiny, harassment, and threats, etc. At the same time, having a completely anonymous and sequestered jury would present its own problems and pressures for the lives of the jurors. It is not clear what lengths the Judge went to in order to allay the concerns of the dismissed juror.

In any event, this occurrence just underscores the always uncertain nature of the jury selection process. It is difficult to recall a case that I have tried where there were not unusual and unexpected responses from potential jurors, as well as numerous and varied attempts by members of the venire to come up with ways not to have to serve on the jury.

Michael Leonard

Leonard Trial Lawyers

April 18, 2024