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Will Trump Attempt To Strike Potential Jurors From Hush Money Case After Unsuccessful Last-Ditch Efforts To Delay Trial? DOJ Veteran Weighs In.

Shanthi Rexaline
April 13, 2024

As former President Donald Trump’s first of four criminal cases is set to begin Monday, ex-Department of Justice veteran Andrew Weissmann weighed on what Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who indicted the ex-president in the hush money case, should focus on.

What Happened: Acting Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan on Friday denied Trump’s last-ditch efforts to postpone the trial on the grounds of “prejudicial pre-trial publicity.” The judge rejected the ex-president’s legal team’s argument that media coverage around the trial may have prejudiced potential jurors.

Reacting to the development, Weissmann, who served as an assistant United States attorney from 1991 to 2002, said, “Correct ruling, again, from Merchan.”

The hush money case is a criminal lawsuit pending against Trump for falsifying accounts regarding payments made to adult movie star Stormy Daniels for covering up his purported sexual encounter. He has been charged with 34 felony counts.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the DOJ veteran also flagged a risk Bragg could face in moving the trial forward.

“What to keep an eye out for in the NY Trump trial jury selection: will the DA have to make a ‘Batson challenge’ to preclude Trump from considering race in striking potential jurors from the trial,” he said.

A Batson challenge, a legal term, refers to a “challenge made by one party in a case to the other party's use of peremptory challenges to eliminate potential jurors from the jury on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or religion.”

A trial usually starts with jury selection. During this process, the court and sometimes lawyers screen potential jurors to determine their fairness and impartiality towards both parties. They also check for any biases, prejudices, or other reasons that might disqualify them from serving.

See Also: Trump’s Niece Says Ex-President’s Legal Team Taking ‘Stroll In Minefield:’ ‘Every Step Triggers Another…Setback’

Why It’s Important: The trial is expected to run for about six weeks, interfering with Trump’s campaign schedule. The ex-president's legal team unsuccessfully attempted to push back the trial start date by employing several tactics.

Trump’s lawyers initially appealed against the gag order that was imposed on him and then filed a motion for the recusal of Merchan on the grounds that his daughter was a consultant for Democrats.

The hush money case may be the only one of Trump’s four criminal cases that could reach a verdict before the Nov. 5 election. The legal developments assume importance because the ex-president is the frontrunner in the 2024 election, albeit by a small margin if one were were to go by the results of several nationwide opinion polls.

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