Update: Early Signs Point to Hung Jury in Trump Porn-Star Sex Trial

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UPDATE: Early Signs Point to Hung Jury in Trump Porn-Star Sex Trial

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) Corrupt New York judge Juan Merchan dismissed the jury for the day following several hours of deliberation after receiving a note that asked for him to reread his convoluted and capricious instructions.

According to legal expert Jonathan Turley, the need for clarification on the instructions likely signals disagreement in their ranks—a very good sign for lovers of American jurisprudence and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

During last week’s discussion about the jury instructions, which saw the two sides hashing out the various standards and Merchan, characteristically, giving the benefit to the prosecution, the judge issued the alarming suggestion that he wanted “to make it as easily [sic] as possible for the jury.”

That comment, although seemingly innocuous, raised red flags since the most likely outcome in Trump’s favor is a hung jury, in which the 12 members fail to reach a unanimous decision to convict or acquit.

Most assume that in the stacked Manhattan courtroom, there will be at least a few who are determined to convict the former president no matter what, so the wheels of justice are turning on whether at least one member will be unmoved by the highly circumstantial evidence enough to say there is reasonable doubt of Trump’s guilt.

Some Trump insiders who were present for the trial offered hope that there was a lone jury member who appeared sympathetic to Trump throughout the trial, The Bulwark reported.

The juror—who may have indicated on his initial screening questionnaire that he got his news from Trump’s Truth Social platform—has occasionally made eye contact with the defendant and walked directly past the table where he sits, has appeared to nod along with some of the defense arguments and recognized prominent Republican lawmakers in the audience.

Nonetheless, prognosticators were careful not to read too much into any of the signs at this point, as it could also be a juror deliberately going out of his way to mislead the defense.

“They’re hoping for a single juror to give them a mistrial and they’re looking at tea leaves like ‘Are jurors making eye contact?’ as evidence that gives them hope,” former federal prosecotor Mitchell Epner told The Bulwark.

“But no one knows,” he added. “Even if an oracle sometimes got it right, at the end of the day, they’re just looking at bird guts.”

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/realbensellers.

Original story below:
Jury Deliberations Begin in Soros DA’s Lawfare Trial over Trump’s Alleged Porn-Star Sex

(Headline USA) Jury deliberations began Wednesday in Donald Trump’s porn-star trial, placing the outcome of the history-making case in the hands of a dozen New Yorkers who have vowed to be fair and impartial in the face of their unprecedented task.

The jury of seven men and five women was sent to a private room just before 11:30 a.m. to begin weighing a verdict in the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president.

The jurors’ discussions will be secret, though they can send notes to the judge asking to rehear testimony or see evidence. That’s also how they will notify the court of a verdict, or if they are unable to reach one.

“It is not my responsibility to judge the evidence here. It is yours,” Judge Juan M. Merchan told jurors after facing weeks of heavy criticism for his biased approach, which included denying motions to the defense on potentially exculpatory witnesses while granting extraordinary leeway to the prosecution, which never specified the requisite second crime Trump would need to be charged with for the charges to stick.

Instead, Merchan offered the jurors a menu of options for the second crime while saying they need not agree on what crime it was in order to convict the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Trump struck a pessimistic tone after leaving the courtroom following an hourlong reading of jury instructions, repeating his assertions of a “very unfair trial” and saying: “Mother Theresa could not beat these charges. These charges are rigged.”

Trump and his lawyers, along with prosecutors, were instructed to remain inside the courthouse during deliberations. He learned back in his chair and closed his eyes as Merchan told jurors at the outset of the day that he would take about an hour to read the instructions. As the instructions continued, he wrote notes that he showed to one of his lawyers.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records at his company in connection with an alleged scheme to hide potentially embarrassing stories about him during his 2016 Republican presidential election campaign.

The charge,a misdemeanor under New York law, was upgraded to a federal felony by George Soros-backed district attorney Alvin Bragg in order to circumvent the fact that the statute of limitations already had lapsed.

The case hinges around reimbursements paid to then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen after he made a $130,000 payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels as part of a nondisclosure agreement.

Trump is accused of misrepresenting Cohen’s reimbursements as legal expenses to hide that they were tied to that payment. However, the payment itself was not illegal, and the case rests largely on whether prosecutors were able to convince the jury that Trump deliberately falsified business records in order to alter the outcome of the election.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and contends the Cohen payments were for legitimate legal services. He has also denied the alleged extramarital sexual encounter with Daniels.

To convict Trump, the jury will have to find unanimously that Trump created a fraudulent entry in his company’s records, or caused someone else to do so, and that he did so with the intent of committing or concealing another crime.

While prosecutors say Trump committed or hid is a violation of a New York election law making it illegal for two or more conspirators “to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means,” experts note that it is highly irregular now for Bragg to attach a New York state crime to the federal charges, particularly since Trump was not running for a state-level office and did not win the election in New York.

The jurors—a diverse cross-section of Manhattan residents and professional backgrounds although suspected to lean heavily to the left side of the political spectrum—often appeared riveted by testimony in the trial, including from Cohen and Daniels. Many took notes and watched intently as witnesses answered questions from Manhattan prosecutors and Trump’s lawyers.

Jurors started deliberating after a marathon day of closing arguments in which a prosecutor spoke for more than five hours, underscoring the burden the district attorney’s office faces in needing to establish Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

A defense lawyer spoke for about half that time; the Trump team need not establish his innocence to avoid a conviction but must instead bank on at least one juror finding that prosecutors have not sufficiently proved their case.

Earlier Wednesday, the jury received instructions in the law from Merchan, who offered some guidance on factors the panel can use to assess witness testimony, including its plausibility, its consistency with other testimony, the witness’s manner on the stand and whether the person has a motive to lie.

But, the judge said, “there is no particular formula for evaluating the truthfulness and accuracy of another person’s statement.”

The principles he outlined are standard but perhaps all the more relevant after Trump’s defense leaned heavily on questioning the credibility of key prosecution witnesses, including Cohen.

Merchan also instructed jurors on the concept of accessorial liability, under which a defendant can be held criminally responsible for someone else’s actions.

That’s a key component of the prosecution’s theory of the case because, while Trump signed some of the checks at issue, people working for his company processed Cohen’s invoices and entered the transactions into its accounting system.

In order to hold Trump liable for those actions, Merchan said jurors must find beyond a reasonable doubt that he solicited, requested or commanded those people to engage in that conduct and that he acted intentionally.

“No one is saying the defendant actually got behind a computer and typed in the false vouchers or stamped the false invoices or printed the false checks,” prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told jurors during his marathon closing argument Tuesday. “But he set in motion a chain of events that led to the creation of the false business records.”

Any verdict must be unanimous. During deliberations, six alternate jurors who also sat through every minute of the trial will be kept at the courthouse in a separate room in case they are needed to replace a juror who falls ill or is otherwise unavailable.

If that happens, deliberations will start anew once the replacement juror is in place.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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