Eight million New Yorkers — but only 12 will judge Trump

Attorneys on both sides are sifting through potential panellists in a search for New Yorkers who can be unbiased — and physically able to attend the legal marathon

By AFP

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Former president Donald Trump in court in New York City April 16 2024, where he is facing charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.  — Reuters
Former president Donald Trump in court in New York City April 16 2024, where he is facing charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. — Reuters

Published: Wed 17 Apr 2024, 2:08 PM

One said he'd read Donald Trump's books. But another took a look at the glowering defendant in the Manhattan courtroom and excused herself, saying, "I couldn't."

Eight million people live in New York but just 12 are being picked to judge the most controversial man in the country -- and it's not a job everyone wants.


Trump grew up in New York, made his name there, and for decades has been part of the city's brash landscape. And of course he's also been president and is running again.

It's hard in the Big Apple not to have an opinion on the Republican -- or on the multiple criminal charges hanging over him.


So it will be a massive challenge for the jury spending the coming weeks judging Trump in his Manhattan hush money fraud trial.

Attorneys on both sides are sifting through scores of potential panellists in a search for New Yorkers who can be unbiased — and physically able to attend the legal marathon.

One dismissed candidate, Kara McGee, said her fellow contenders were "really kind of trying to put their own feelings aside and be impartial."

She asked to be excused because her job in cybersecurity posed a scheduling conflict.

But, "there was a sense of like, 'Oh, we need to be here and do our civic duty,'" the 29-year-old told AFP.

Jurors who are selected will granted anonymity to protect them from harassment. McGee was known inside the courtroom only as Juror B377.

The final group will be asked to decide whether the 77-year-old White House candidate is guilty of 34 felonies in falsifying business records in a scheme to cover up reports on the eve of his 2016 election victory that he had an extramarital affair with a porn star.

That prospect left some prospective jurors in a hurry to get out.

"I just couldn't do it," one woman was heard confessing in the hallway as she left.

"It's probably going to be tough for me to be impartial," a man with thinning hair and a beard told the court Tuesday morning, citing the "unconscious bias" he might pick up working as an accountant, where he said many of his colleagues "slant Republican."

He too was dismissed.

One older man, sporting greying hair and dark-rimmed glasses, said he had read several of Trump's ghost-written bestsellers, including "The Art of the Deal" and "How to Get Rich."

But he reckoned he could manage to stay impartial.

"I feel that no one's above the law," he said, adding that he would do his best to avoid discussing the case with his wife.

A teacher from Harlem -- a Black woman in her late 20s -- also said she would put civic duty above personal feelings.

"There was a divide in the country (during the last election), and I can't ignore that," she said. "However, I never equated that to one individual."

In an age of smartphones and 24 hour TV news, few can say they have stayed free of the Trump coverage. But one juror could: she told the attorneys she'd been away in February and March by a lake with no Wi-Fi.

"I don't really know what exactly this case is about," she said.


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