'We Have Our Jury,' Trump Judge Announces

Five more alternates are still needed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2024 10:00 AM CDT
Updated Apr 18, 2024 4:19 PM CDT
Trump Juror With Concerns About Being IDed Excused
Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower on his way to Manhattan criminal court on Thursday in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Judge Juan Merchan announced late Thursday afternoon that his court is no longer in the process of choosing the 12 jurors needed for Donald Trump's hush-money trial. "We have our jury," the judge told his Manhattan courtroom. "Let's pick our alternates." One alternate has been selected, the Washington Post reports, leaving five still to be chosen. Merchan said he intended to finish that task on Friday and expects opening arguments to be presented Monday. The former president had complained that Merchan was "rushing" the proceedings after the first seven jurors were selected in two days. However, two of those seven were dismissed as the trial's jury selection phase resumed Thursday, only to be replaced by a pair of newcomers later in the day.

  • First dismissal: One juror said that after sleeping on it, she had doubts about her ability to be fair and impartial. She also told the judge she was worried about what had been reported about her publicly, and that friends, colleagues, and relatives said she had been identified as a potential juror, the New York Times reports.
  • Second dismissal: The second juror was dismissed amid concerns that he didn't answer questions truthfully about whether he had ever been convicted or accused of a crime, reports the AP. Prosecutors said a man with the same name had been arrested for tearing down political posters in the 1990s, and his wife may have been involved in a corruption investigation, per the Guardian. Asked outside the courtroom whether he should have been dismissed, the man replied, "Nope," per the New York Times.

  • Warning to media: Merchan said that from now on, reporters should use "common sense" when describing jurors. "There was really no need to mention that one of the jurors had an Irish accent," he said, per NBC News. He said journalists should stop reporting potential jurors' responses to questions about their employment.
  • Gag violations? Prosecutors asked for Trump to be held in contempt and fined over social media posts that they said violated a gag order by attacking witnesses and jurors, the AP reports. In one Truth Social post cited by prosecutor Christopher Conroy, Trump repeated a Fox News claim that "undercover" liberal activists were lying to get on the jury. Merchan didn't make an immediate ruling on the possible violation.
  • Bad start: Out of the first group of 96 potential jurors Thursday, 48 were quickly dismissed after they said they couldn't be fair and impartial, the Times reports. Another nine were excused for other reasons.
This story has been updated with new information. (More Trump hush-money trial stories.)

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