'Blatant litmus test': Trump attorneys screen prospective jurors for 'political biases' in defamation case
No presidential candidate in U.S. history has had more legal problems than Donald Trump. The former president and 2024 GOP presidential frontrunner is not only facing a 34-count criminal prosecution from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr., but also, two federal criminal investigations from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and special counsel Jack Smith and a state criminal investigation from Fulton County Georgia DA Fani Willis. And Trump has civil worries as well.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James has been conducting a civil probe of the Trump Organization's financial activities, and journalist/author E. Jean Carroll (a former Elle columnist) has filed two separate civil defamation lawsuits against Trump — who she alleges sexually assaulted her in Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman's dressing room during the 1990s. Trump and his attorneys have vehemently denied Carroll's allegations.
Carroll's first civil lawsuit against Trump was originally scheduled to go to trial on April 10, but that trial was delayed. The trial in her second civil lawsuit, however, is set begin on Tuesday, April 25.
In an article published by the Daily Beast on April 13, journalist Jose Pagliery describes the types of questions that attorneys for Trump and Carroll have in mind for voir dire (jury selection) in Carroll's second defamation case. And some of those possible questions, according to Pagliery, are highly political.
"With just weeks to go before E. Jean Carroll's rape trial against Donald Trump in New York,” Pagliery reports, "lawyers on both sides are figuring out what questions to ask prospective jurors. And while some questions are the run-of-the-mill kind used to screen biased jurors, a fair share highlight the bizarre nature of the case involving the country's most divisive politician."
According to Pagliery, Carroll's attorneys "are trying to screen the crazies who still parrot Trump's unfounded claims that he lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden unfairly."
One of the questions that Trump's attorneys have in mind, Pagliery reports, is: "Do you think that the #MeToo movement has gone too far?" Another is: "Have you ever used the hashtag #BelieveAllWomen when discussing sexual assault?"
Meanwhile, Carroll's lawyers have proposed asking possible jurors, "Is there anyone who uses or has used the social media platform Truth Social?" as well as "Is there anyone who believes the results of the 2020 presidential election are illegitimate?"
"Both sides' proposed lists include several questions on a person's feelings about alleged sexual assault, and scoring open-minded jurors who haven't already labeled Trump a scumbag will be difficult," Pagliery notes. "At trial, Carroll’s lawyers are hoping to convince jurors that Trump's abundant history of misogynist comments paint the picture of a serial sexual predator protected by his entitlement and wealth. In that sense, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has already tilted the trial in Carroll's favor by allowing jurors — if they somehow haven't already — to watch the leaked 2005 'Access Hollywood' tape where Trump infamously said, 'When you're a star, they let you do it…. You can do anything…. grab 'em by the pussy.'"
Pagliery continues, "Trump's lawyers also want to engage in what several legal scholars noted was a blatant litmus test for people's politics: dredging up the debacle that was the Senate's contentious confirmation of Trump's Supreme Court pick in 2018, Brett Kavanaugh…. Carroll's lawyers seem intent on using the jury selection process to point out how Trump is also under criminal investigation, with proposed questions probing people's familiarity with the Manhattan District Attorney's criminal case against him for faking business records to hide his hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and the Justice Department's investigation into his hoarding of classified documents at his Florida oceanside estate of Mar-a-Lago."
Read The Daily Beast's full report at this link (subscription required).
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