Manhattan District Attorney Says Trump Trial Can’t Wait for Publicity to Simmer Down

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
April 3, 2024Judiciary
Manhattan District Attorney Says Trump Trial Can’t Wait for Publicity to Simmer Down
Former President Donald Trump arrives for a rally in Green Bay, Wis., on April 2, 2024. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg says that trying former President Donald Trump can’t wait until media publicity passes. Mr. Bragg filed an April 1 opposition motion made public on April 3.

“An indefinite adjournment is inappropriate,” the prosecutors argued, noting that it was the defense’s eighth attempt at delaying the trial.

Defense attorneys had argued that the publicity surrounding the first-ever criminal trial of a former American president—set to start April 15—would make seating an impartial jury impossible.

Prosecutors countered that the jury questioning process is meant to seat an impartial jury and that President Trump’s “own incessant rhetoric is generating significant publicity.”

“It would be perverse to reward defendant with an adjournment based on media attention he is actively seeking,” the new filing reads, claiming the defense is seeking an “open-ended delay of the trial.”

The district attorney is prosecuting President Trump for 34 counts of falsifying business records, allegedly connected to a scheme to influence the 2016 elections.

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan is presiding over the case, and has already rejected similar arguments earlier this year and criticized the defense for “repeatedly” seeking to delay the case.

President Trump is facing four criminal indictments in separate jurisdictions. Last year the district attorney had indicated that the Manhattan case could be delayed because of the other case schedules.

But several appeals, including an upcoming review at the Supreme Court, have delayed some of the other cases. On Feb. 15, Justice Merchan held a status conference hearing and affirmed a March 25 trial date for President Trump, later delaying it to April 15 because of late discovery productions.

During the February hearing, Justice Merchan was dismissive of a request to delay the trial based on publicity, finding no reason to believe there would be less publicity if the trial date changed.

Prosecutors argued that recent reporting “actually confirms that this Court will be able to find twelve impartial jurors (and alternates) in Manhattan.”

Citing past cases, prosecutors argued that “even when potential jurors openly ‘question or doubt they can be fair in the case,’ there is no barrier to seating them on the jury if they ultimately provide ‘some unequivocal assurance of their ability to be impartial.'”

New York Voters

The defense argued that New York County voters have shown partiality for or against the former president through the ballots they cast. Prosecutors argued this was not the case.

A vote for or against him in 2016 or 2020 says nothing about their impartiality “in a 2024 criminal trial involving one of those candidates,” they claimed.

“Such opinions are not, by themselves, disqualifying,” prosecutors argued, adding that the “sheer size” of the county makes it likely that an impartial jury can be seated when the trial begins on April 15.

The court will give the prosecutors and defense together 30 minutes for the first round of interviewing each panel of jurors, and 20 minutes for subsequent rounds.

The defense also had commissioned a survey of New York County residents about their awareness of the case, and prosecutors noted the numbers were high in Manhattan.

A majority of 51 percent of Manhattan residents said they could “definitely” be fair and impartial, and 19 percent said they could “probably” be fair or impartial. Meanwhile, only about 20 percent of those surveyed from any borough said they could not be fair or impartial.

The prosecutors added they had “serious doubts about the reliability of the survey” because they had not seen the methodology used to collect responses.

“It is absurd for defendant to assert that it will be impossible or even impractical to find a dozen fair and impartial jurors, plus alternates, among more than a million people,” prosecutors argued.

“Just as politicians cannot selectively pick which votes to count, defendant cannot rely on parts of the survey to claim that Manhattan residents have ‘overwhelming bias.'”

They note that courts usually scrutinize pretrial publicity in cases of violent and gruesome crimes, which was not the issue at hand.

“To state the obvious, New York County is not a small, rural community with a limited pool of jurors,” the prosecutors argued.

Claims of Bias

Prosecutors also used the court filing as an opportunity to push back on claims of bias the defense has lodged in recent correspondence with the court.

Defense attorneys have argued Judge Merchan should recuse himself because he has made small-dollar donations to President Trump’s political opponents and his daughter heads a marketing firm that has received millions from those campaigning against President Trump.

They also argued that the district attorney has made statements they claim points toward prejudging the defendant.

The district attorney argued that the judge has already reviewed these arguments previously and found them improper.

The judge decided that the district attorney was doing his public duty when he held a press conference after President Trump’s arraignment to tell the public what charges were brought and why.

The defense also criticized the district attorney for bringing up “sex crimes” in an interview with CNBC about the case when President Trump was not charged with such.

“The District Attorney was merely listing examples of other cases where the office had charged defendants with falsifying business records. He was not implying that defendant had committed any sex crimes in the instant case,” prosecutors argued.

Prosecutors also pushed back on the accusation that they had used “strategic leaks” to the media to prejudice the public against President Trump, arguing that the defense showed “no basis whatsoever” for this.

Prosecutors also took the opportunity to criticize the defense for mentioning the judge’s family, describing it as “reckless and beyond the pale” and “dangerous.”

Defense attorneys have maintained that the prosecutors provided no evidence that President Trump’s speech constituted a threat, but the judge has sided with prosecutors and expanded the gag order to cover his family members.

From The Epoch Times

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