Trump’s New York Jury

Finding 12 impartial people in a high-profile trial is challenging.

Scanning the WSJ front page, I came across the headline “Meet the 12 New Yorkers Who Will Decide Donald Trump’s Fate in Hush-Money Trial.” Thankfully, this wasn’t a doxxing but a fairly vague listing of descriptions. Alas, it did very little to assuage my concern that these are indeed people who wanted to be on this particular jury.

This is a direct quote with redactions of seemingly irrelevant information and some minor editing for formatting:

Juror 12 on Trump: “I have no opinions until I am presented with the information in the courtroom.”

Gender: Woman

Job: Physical therapist

News sources: CNN, among others; listens to sports and faith podcasts

Juror 11 on Trump: “How he is in public and how he himself portrays himself in public…it is not my cup of tea.”

Gender: Woman

Job: Product development at an apparel company

News sources: Nightly news

Juror 10: “I don’t have a strong opinion about Mr. Trump.”

Gender: Man

Employer: E-commerce company

News sources: Doesn’t follow the news, “but if anything, it’s the New York Times.”

Juror 9 on Trump: “I do not agree with a lot of his politics and his decisions as president, but…I could leave that at the door and be a totally impartial juror.”

Gender: Woman

Job: Speech therapist

News sources: New York Times, TikTok and other social-media platforms

Juror 8: “I don’t think too much about politics.”

Gender: Man

Job: Retired, previously worked in wealth management

News sources: BBC, CNBC, among other outlets

Juror 7: “I have political views as to the Trump presidency…I don’t have any particular opinions about him personally.” 

Gender: Man

Job: Lawyer

News sources: New York Times and The Wall Street Journal

Juror 6: “Trump and I probably have different beliefs, but I don’t think that invalidates anything about who he is as a person.”

Gender: Woman

Job: Software engineer

News sources: TikTok, Facebook and the New York Times

Juror 5: “President Trump speaks his mind. I would rather that in a person than someone who’s in office and you don’t know what they’re doing behind the scenes.”

Gender: Woman

Job: Teacher at a charter school 

News sources: Google and TikTok; “I don’t like news or newspapers.” 

Does Juror 4 have strong feelings about Trump? “No, not really.”

Gender: Man 

Job: Security engineer for 25 years

News sources: “Scattering of all things here and there.”

Juror 3: “I don’t think I need to read someone’s mind to determine their intent or at least make a good guess as to it.”

Gender: Man

Job: Lawyer

News sources: The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times

Has Juror 1 heard of the other criminal cases against Trump? “I’ve heard of some of them.”

Juror 2 on Trump: “I might not like some of his policies, but there has been some good for the United States.”

Gender: Man

Job: Investment banker

News sources: He reads “basically everything,” and follows Michael Cohen, Trump and “anyone who might affect markets” on social media

Has Juror 1 heard of the other criminal cases against Trump? “I’ve heard of some of them.”

So, offhand, it would appear that Jurors 2 and 5 are Trump fans.

And, frankly, a whole lot of them are almost certainly lying about not having opinions about Trump personally. I suppose that’s possible if you ignore the news entirely or get it primarily from TikTok. But for someone who regularly reads the New York Times? Bullshit.

And there’s just no way in hell that the two lawyers—a suspiciously high number—don’t already have strong opinions about Trump and this case.

Juror 12’s “I have no opinions until I am presented with the information in the courtroom” sounds like someone who was coached on how to be selected. Why she wants to be on the jury is unclear. Her listening to “faith podcasts” for news would seem to be a sign that she’s a Trumper. But she also claims to be a CNN viewer, so who knows?

As noted when selection was getting away, I don’t think this is a fixable problem. Trump is as high-profile a defendant as one could imagine and almost certainly the single most polarizing figure in the country. Finding 12 people who are smart enough to process the information presented to them and who don’t have strong opinion about him is next to impossible.

To be sure, it’s possible to both have a strong opinion about Trump and to be fair-minded in the hearing of his case. I’m reasonably confident that I could do so. But, again, I would do everything within the bounds of ethics to avoid having to spend several weeks in that courtroom. These are 12 people who, for whatever reason, want to be part of this particular trial.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Daryl says:

    I am inclined to believe that the evidence will be strong enough to overwhelm the most ardent sycophant.
    Remember – Cohen, Trump’s co-conspirator, has already done his time for this.
    If not then the rule of law is in serious trouble.

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  2. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Never forget the dismissed New Yorker who said she wouldn’t believe a word Trump said if his tongue were notarized. Jimmy Kimmel referenced it on his show as a great line and added that since she can’t be a juror, he wondered if she’d consider a career as one of his writers.

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  3. Mimai says:

    Interesting mix of professions. Highly educated compared to the overall population. Runs counter to common assumptions about juror selection and jury composition. Updating.

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  4. Richard Gardner says:

    I don’t “do” TikTok and I would be dismissive of the idea that TikTok is a news source except I know a woman in her 40s who does (on her phone). I guess not much different than just reading a headline and seeing the photo.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    The jury must be unbiased as to the case. Nowhere does this mean that they have to be effectively ignorant of his public actors or public behavior. In other words “unbiased” does not equal “defendant is unknown to the juror”. It’s a hazard of being a public figure.

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  6. Mo says:

    Juror 2 doesn’t sound like a Trump. Sound neutralish at best. I mean he also follows MuellerSheWrote on Twitter

  7. gVOR10 says:

    I forget which well known political scientist said the great secret of poli sci, one that no one wants to talk about, is that the electorate are a box of rocks. We’re all reading OTB and commenting because we’re political junkies. We’re the oddballs, not the people who read the Times for Lifestyle and Cooking. It may not be as hard as we think to find 12 (really, 18) New Yorkers who go through their daily lives not knowing or caring much about Trump.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR10:

    not the people who read the Times for Lifestyle and Cooking.

    And just remember, the people who get any information, even that, from print media is a fraction of the population. How can people vote for Trump knowing all they do about him? The key phrase is “knowing all they do”.

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  9. CSK says:

    The NYT is reporting that the first prosecution witness in the Trump trial will be David Pecker.

  10. Eusebio says:

    Seems like a fair jury for the defendant, which is how it’s supposed to be… I think?

    When it comes to elections, people who are willing to support an objectively unfit candidate often deflect and feign ignorance. Several of the jurors’ responses smack of similar deflection with regard to their personal opinion of the defendant or their views of politics and government, such as the retired wealth manager saying “I don’t think too much about politics.” But then again, that may have been a reasonable response in the context of the questions asked.

    If this jury renders a guilty verdict, then it’s deserved (based on the facts and law as presented, of course).

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  11. Andy says:

    James,

    To be frank, I think you are reading too much into these. It’s important to remember that WE are the weirdos. You and I and the regulars here and pretty much anyone reading this comment are the abnormal ones.

    The woman who listens to “faith podcasts” and watches CNN sounds like my mother-in-law, who is a weekly church-going Lutheran but who also watches CNN, hates Trump, and constantly posts “Occupy Democrats” memes on Facebook. But she is also trans-skeptical and supports Trump’s trade protectionism policies.

    In short, I don’t think we should jump to conclusions about these stereotypes about the very limited information we have about these jurors.

    @MarkedMan:

    The jury must be unbiased as to the case. Nowhere does this mean that they have to be effectively ignorant of his public actors or public behavior. In other words “unbiased” does not equal “defendant is unknown to the juror”. It’s a hazard of being a public figure.

    Yep. And the jury is given specific instructions about what they are supposed to evaluate and what they are not.

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