Donald Trump Has A Jury Issue

In a Truth Social post just hours before he was arraigned in Manhattan court last Tuesday, former President Trump said he would not receive a fair trial if his case was tried in Manhattan and suggested a change of venue to “nearby Staten Island” which he said would deliver a “very fair and secure” trial.

Bloomberg reported on April 1 that Trump’s legal team is considering whether to request a change of venue to Staten Island, however, some legal experts believe such a request would be doomed to fail.

It is understandable why Trump would want his trial moved to Staten Island. While only 12 percent of Manhattan voters chose Trump in 2020, Staten Island was the only New York City borough Trump won, garnering 57 percent of the vote to Biden’s 42 percent. Trump also beat Hillary Clinton in Staten Island in 2016, 57 percent to 41 percent.

But former federal prosecutor Jennifer Roberts told Bloomberg that defendants aren’t entitled to go juror-shopping based on characteristics they think are more favorable, including voting patterns. She said if voter registration is the only reason Trump wants to move the trial to Staten Island, “that’s not going to fly.”

University of Pennsylvania law professor Claire Finkelstein told Bloomberg that the former president is entitled to a jury of his peers, not a “jury of Trump supporters.” She added that Trump’s defense has the right to reject any potential juror who, under questioning during jury selection, appears unable “to exercise independent judgment.” 

Florida criminal defense attorney Richard Serafini told Bloomberg that a motion for a venue change assumes that the jurors would ignore both their oath and jury instructions to vote along political lines. He said in his experience after 40 years of trial work, jurors take their oaths seriously and pay close attention to jury instructions to “follow the trial evidence wherever it leads.”

New York criminal defense attorney Michael Bachner also warned that Trump’s repeated attacks on District Attorney Alvin Bragg and the case itself could risk alienating potential jurors. He said not only are the attacks “prejudicial to the system” but they are also “problematic” for jurors.