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Trial against Donald Trump – Up to 500 jurors called up for Trump trial – News

Juries play an important role in criminal and civil trials in the U.S. legal system. In the state of New York they come into play in a criminal trial like the one against Donald Trump.

It is required by law that twelve representatives from the population be selected to judge objectively and fairly a crime. Potential jurors must not have a criminal record, they must be at least 18 years old US citizens and live in the court’s district, i.e. Manhattan.

The squad

They are called up at random. Showing up is a civic duty. Over a hundred were tested yesterday in a first round. After the judge in charge introduced them to the case, the individual parties, lawyers and witnesses, more than 50 of them came forward and said they felt unable to judge objectively. They were eliminated.

Impartiality is extremely important, but who in the USA doesn’t have an opinion about Donald Trump? Is the trial in danger of collapsing because not enough suitable jurors can be found?

Valerie Hans


Law professor Valerie Hans teaches at Cornell Law School in New York and is editor of the Annual Review of Law and Social Science.

Cornell Law School

Law professor Valerie Hans has written numerous books on the jury system and is considered one of the most renowned experts in the United States in this field. She has no doubt that it will be possible to find twelve unbiased jurors and six substitutes: “What convinces me are the various procedural steps that have been determined for high-profile trials like this.»

Hundreds of other potential jurors who will be tested in a first round are already waiting in the starting blocks. The judge in charge spoke yesterday of up to 500 citizens being called up.

The questionnaire

Those remaining in the running must answer a questionnaire with 42 questions that ask for information about the person’s background and life experiences. But also connections to groups that are good or bad for Trump. Valerie Hans finds the selection of questions convincing: Most of the questions are very targeted. It’s about views and attitudes that relate to exactly this court case.

It is very important to find jurors who are open to hearing evidence from both sides.

«I experienced something completely different there. Such attitudes can influence how someone views the evidence in the case. “But it is very important that we find jurors who are open to hearing evidence on both sides,” said the expert. The potential jurors are then questioned individually by the judge and the lawyers. There are lawyers who specialize solely in jury selection. Jury selection is an art in itself.

Judges and lawyers have to work hard to identify possible biases in people that they may not want to admit when questioned.

In this specific case, the judge decided that the names of the jurors would not be made public for their protection. But the lawyers know the names and can look for additional information on social media, for example. In the USA, information about any party affiliation or party donations is also publicly available.

Trump Manhattan.


According to the court, up to 500 citizens living in Manhattan were summoned to serve as jurors in the hush money trial against Donald Trump.


Due to the composition of Manhattan’s population, there is a high probability that there will be more Democrats than Republicans in the selection process.

But Valerie Hans doesn’t see this as a problem: “In other prominent cases it has also been possible to select a fair jury. But it is a challenge.” The judge and attorneys would have to work very hard to locate individuals and identify possible bias that they may not want to admit during questioning.

Both parties also have the right to reject ten potential jurors and two potential alternate jurors without explanation. This should also help to put together a fair jury.

The strength and plausibility of the evidence counts

In her research, Valerie Hans has found that jurors in a trial primarily consider the strength and plausibility of the evidence presented in the case. Your inclinations and attitudes are far less important.

She remembers a particularly memorable example in which an obvious Trump supporter sat on a jury that convicted a Trump fan. “She put her Trump hat on at the end and said, You know, I didn’t want this guy to be guilty, I really didn’t. But unfortunately the evidence convinced me. And so I had to condemn him.”

Selection process lasting up to two weeks

Jurors must also take an oath in which they undertake to base their verdict on the evidence. Professor Valerie Hans is therefore confident that a fair jury can ultimately be determined in the criminal trial against Donald Trump. That could take time. She expects the selection process to take up to two weeks.

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