A Rigged System: How the NYC Jury Was Guided to Convict Trump

Written by Alexander Peterson.

Imagine this: a five-woman, seven-man jury tasked with deciding the fate of former President Donald Trump, facing alleged bookkeeping errors. The jury instructions? A hefty 55-page document handed out moments before being read in court, essentially directing them towards a guilty verdict. Even Trump himself acknowledged the gravity, claiming not even “Mother Teresa could beat these charges.” The “fix is in,” echoed former U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova, labeling it the most corrupt judicial proceeding in American history.

The sentiment was shared by Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, who bluntly stated the judge was essentially instructing the jury to convict Trump. Jury instructions are crucial; they often determine the likelihood of an acquittal or a hung jury.

What makes these instructions particularly troubling is their flexibility. Jurors were presented with three potential motivations for Trump’s alleged actions, allowing for individual, not unanimous, decisions on his motives. This includes the possibility of federal or state campaign law violations or tax law breaches—without solid evidence presented.

Legal Theories and Expert Witnesses: A Convoluted Mess

The jury must unanimously agree on the 34 charged indictments. However, prosecutors cleverly concealed their strategies behind complex legal theories. One such theory, mentioned in District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s letter, involved Trump’s legal payments to Michael Cohen, deemed not campaign expenses by former Federal Elections Commission head Brad Smith. Smith was supposed to testify on this but was restricted by the judge to merely verifying definitions.

In a shocking move, the judge barred Smith from giving expert opinions, claiming it would confuse jurors. This decision is perhaps the defense’s biggest misstep. Prosecutors, meanwhile, argued that Trump broke election laws, despite no evidence being presented. They also linked Cohen’s plea deal to Trump, which the judge initially prohibited but later allowed in court.

Cohen’s plea deal, which involved less prison time for bank and tax fraud in exchange for admitting to election violations, became a cornerstone of the prosecution’s argument. These legal theories were sprung on the defense at the last minute, making it impossible to counter effectively. Such tactics rendered the defense nearly powerless, akin to a death sentence.

Jury Deliberations and Media Coverage: A Foregone Conclusion

CNN detailed the jury instructions, highlighting the expectation for unanimous agreement on each count. Jurors needed to determine if Trump conspired to influence or prevent someone from public office unlawfully. However, the complexity of the instructions led jurors to request a re-reading, as they were not permitted to keep a copy.

The jury deliberated for four and a half hours on Wednesday, with their day ending at 4:30 p.m., except when the prosecution extended their closing arguments into late Tuesday night, presenting facts not in evidence. This unusual New York custom of closing arguments, without a defense rebuttal, frustrated Trump, who vented on TruthSocial.

Jurors had access to trial evidence via a computer but lacked access to testimony transcripts, which were unavailable to most reporters for days. This lack of transparency and the arduous task of transcribing or screenshotting transcripts highlighted the trial’s procedural oddities.

“He is going to give them a directed verdict of guilty,” diGenova stated, criticizing the judge’s denial of the defense’s right to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses effectively. Even U.S. Supreme Court law, mandating unanimous criminal decisions, seemed ignored. This case appeared predetermined.

Our Take

The trial’s proceedings reveal a disturbing manipulation of justice. The judge’s actions, from limiting expert testimony to guiding the jury’s verdict, undermine the integrity of the legal system. This manipulation serves as a dangerous precedent, threatening the fairness of future trials. The public deserves a judiciary that upholds justice, not one swayed by political motivations. The implications of this case extend beyond Trump, jeopardizing trust in our legal institutions and democracy itself.

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