Juror in Trump trial excused after expressing concerns about ability to serve

A woman who was selected to serve on the jury in former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York was excused after she expressed concerns about her ability to remain impartial on Thursday, the third day of jury selection in the case.

The juror, a young woman who was chosen to serve on Tuesday, said she “definitely has concerns now” after friends and family asked her if she was a juror, based on reports in the media about those who have been selected. 

“Aspects of my identity have already been out there in public. Yesterday alone, I had friends and family push things to me,” she told the court on Thursday. “I don’t think at this point that I can be fair and unbiased.”

The judge, Juan Merchan, immediately reprimanded the press for reporting what he considers too much information about the jurors. He said questions about potential jurors’ employers would be redacted from the court record moving forward, and directed reporters not to mention jurors’ physical appearance.

Day 3 of jury selection

Prosecutors and attorneys for Trump are meeting a new cohort of Manhattan residents Thursday in the hopes of filling the remaining six slots on the jury, plus half a dozen alternates.

Seven New Yorkers, including the woman who has since been excused, were selected on Tuesday to serve as jurors in the first criminal trial of a former president in U.S. history. They were part of an initial batch of 96 residents who were asked, in bulk, if they could be impartial while deciding a case involving Trump. More than half of that group said they could not and were immediately excused. The remaining people were whittled down through questioning from lawyers and Merchan. 

Some had scheduling issues that might have conflicted with serving on jury for a trial that could last up to two months, while others later concluded — after spending hours in the room with Trump and hearing about the case — that they couldn’t be impartial, either. More than two dozen answered, one at a time and out loud, a 42-question assessment designed to help the lawyers glean their feelings about Trump and ability to fairly decide the case.

Finally, a smaller group was questioned individually as consultants for the lawyers pored through their online lives. Some were confronted by Trump’s attorneys with social media posts dating back years, before they were excused. Each side in the case is allowed 10 peremptory challenges, enabling them to excuse a potential juror without explanation, and there are an unlimited number of “for cause” challenges, which call for a person to be excused if there’s a clear conflict. 

With a new batch of 96 Manhattanites set to be considered Thursday, each side has four peremptory challenges remaining. The attorneys will also select up to six alternate jurors, and the two sides will receive five more peremptory challenges during that process.

Trump pleaded not guilty when he was indicted more than a year ago on 34 felony counts of falsification of business records. He denies all allegations in the case, which revolves around reimbursements to former attorney Michael Cohen, for a “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Prosecutors say Trump covered up the reimbursements in order to distance himself from the payment, which days before the 2016 presidential election temporarily bought Daniels’ silence about an alleged affair. Trump has also denied having the affair.

Trump has raged against the case, accusing prosecutors of charging him for political reasons. He has also frequently lashed out at the judge on social media, accusing Merchan of bias. But in the courtroom, Trump has been largely quiet and reserved, even appearing to nod off from time to time.

Still, Merchan had to warn Trump on Tuesday about “audibly uttering something … speaking in the direction of the juror” under questioning at the time about one of her social media posts. 

“I won’t tolerate that. I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom. I want to make that crystal clear,” Merchan said. 

Original CBS News Link</a