Donald Trump jury move by prosecutors surprises legal experts

by Jessica

A criminal law expert has expressed surprise that prosecutors have allowed two lawyers onto the Donald Trump jury in New York. Only seven jurors have been chosen so far—and two of them are corporate attorneys.

The prosecution will try to prove that, before the 2016 presidential election, Trump paid two women—adult film star Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal—not to reveal his alleged affairs with them.

Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor, wrote that attorneys may feel they know better than a prosecutor. Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Eliason, a former federal prosecutor, noted that there are two lawyers on the Trump jury thus far.

“I’m a little surprised prosecutors would keep two attorneys on the jury in this case. My sense is that might favor the defense; attorneys might be more likely to accept a defense like lack of intent when the facts are otherwise clear,” he said.

“OTOH maybe with a Manhattan jury pool there tends to be a high number of lawyers and you need to save your strikes for more serious concerns. Or maybe the Manhattan DA’s office has a different experience and folklore.”

“In my own experience prosecuting in DC, conventional wisdom/trial lawyer folklore was that you didn’t want lawyers on your jury. The concern was that they would think they were smarter than you and second guess your case or presentation,” Eliason wrote.

“And because they were lawyers, the other jurors might give their opinion undue weight. I usually would strike them. I only made an exception one time. In a bribery prosecution where there was an entrapment defense, I kept a young attorney on the jury who had been a law clerk.”

“I figured she would see the defense was BS and could help explain that to the other jurors. She ended up as foreperson and they convicted,” he wrote.

With seven jurors selected on Tuesday and a break in the trial on Wednesday, prosecutors and Trump’s attorney are expected to continue selecting the five remaining jurors and six alternates on Thursday.

New York attorney Colleen Kerwick told Newsweek that Trump’s team may want an attorney to be on the jury because Cohen has been disbarred from practicing law and a lawyer could view him with suspicion.

“The defense has two practicing lawyers from white-shoe law firms on the jury already. They would perceive disbarred attorney Michael Cohen’s counsel to Trump as wrong,” she said.

Kerwick believes the lawyers on the jury may have “reasonable doubt as to whether Trump was a criminal for accepting the advice of counsel”.

Cohen served prison time after pleading guilty to eight criminal counts in August 2018, including campaign finance violations related to an alleged hush money scheme involving Stormy Daniels.

In a separate case, he pleaded guilty in federal court in November 2018 to lying to Congress in relation to false statements he made to U.S. lawmakers about Trump’s reported business dealings with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Cohen is expected to testify that he paid Daniels $130,000 and arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer to pay McDougal $150,000. In both cases, Trump’s alleged motive was to avoid scandal while he was campaigning against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the presidency.

Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential election, has strongly denied all allegations and says he is the target of a political witch hunt.

Kerwick said that the defense will be screening the jury to find out if any of them had read Michael Cohen’s memoir, Disloyal, about the time he served as Trump’s attorney.

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