Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Trump’s defense used a jury consultant to research and help them select jurors

By 37ci3 Apr20,2024

New Yorkers who can decide The fate of Donald Trump It was vetted in real time by the former president’s defense team on Friday.

Potential alternate jurors were questioned by prosecutors seeking to indict Trump illegally paying hush money to a porn starand while defense attorneys tried to keep him out of jail, a jury consultant hired by Trump’s legal team was closely monitoring the candidates for possible signs of bias while giving impressions to defense attorneys.

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Meanwhile, other jury consultants say it’s likely that a team of researchers working with a jury consultant is scouring social media and other online sites to fill out a profile of each potential juror and sending that information to Trump’s attorneys in the courtroom.

“All of this should happen relatively quickly,” said Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, a veteran jury consultant with Dimitrius & Associates, who identified the firm that is following the case and working for Trump as Magna Legal Services.

The Philadelphia-based firm did not respond to NBC News’ subpoena, but court records show that Magna was counsel to Trump’s grand jury when he was ordered to pay $83.3 million in damages to the writer. E. Jean Carroll 2019 for defaming him.

It was not immediately clear whether the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office used its own jury consultant to vet the jury, and a spokeswoman for the agency did not return multiple phone calls from NBC News.

By noon, jury selection was complete and Trump’s first trial was heading into opening arguments.

It has become a fairly common practice to use it to screen jury counsel.

“In my experience, there’s usually a counselor sitting behind the attorneys with a laptop and reporting to the attorney who’s polling the jurors,” Dimitrius said. “They usually have a social media check and other searches in the home office because counsel’s primary role in the courtroom is to listen and monitor jurors and provide feedback to attorneys.”

Dimitrius said that sometimes background checks on potential jurors are done before questioning begins.

“Usually the morning of jury selection, you get a list of potential jurors,” he said. “So we’ll take an iPhone picture of the list and send it to the office where they’ll start their search.”

Michael Boucher of TCS, a jury consultant based in Tampa, has held a number of high-profile jobs in New York, including the former governor of Alaska. Sarah Palin’s failed defamation case Against the New York Times, Dimitrius reiterated.

“In a situation like this, we would set up a laptop on the podium and use a messaging app to communicate with the attorneys who were questioning the jurors,” Boucher said. “Not only are you informing the attorney, but you’re finding jurors online, and you’re trying to help the attorney ask questions. “Lawyers sometimes get too far in the weeds and need help asking them more questions.”

At the same time, Boucher said, “We are monitoring the reactions of other jurors awaiting questioning and passing that information on to our legal team. So we already have a sense of where the next potential jurors stand when they begin their work.”

In his experience, Boucher said, Manhattan juries are sophisticated, well-educated and thoughtful. But cases involving polarizing figures like Trump or Palin “sometimes attract what we call ‘campaign jurors,’ with strong feelings for or against them.”

“It’s very hard to find someone who doesn’t have an opinion about Trump,” he said.

NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos, an attorney who practices in New York and elsewhere, agreed.

“In almost every other case in the world, the likelihood of a juror tweeting or posting on social media about a defendant is not strong,” Cevallos said. “It’s a one-in-a-million rarity. Good job. We’ve probably all retweeted or tweeted something about Donald Trump.”

Renato Stabile, managing director of Dubin Research & Consulting in New York, said social media monitoring has revolutionized the way juries are selected and how jury consultants do their jobs.

“It used to be that you had to trust what the jurors said in court, and I think attorneys depended more on their experience and their gut, perhaps unfortunately right or wrong stereotypes and past experiences,” Stabile said. you just get a better idea of ​​what the judges are really about based on the articles they like, what they repost.”

Investigating social media is “probably the most important part of jury selection,” said David Oscar Marcus, a criminal defense attorney who successfully defended former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, among others. He is accused of lying to the FBI.

“A lot of people will come to court and say, ‘Yes, of course I can be fair,’ or, ‘I have feelings about this one way or another, but I can put all that aside and give the prosecution and the defense. fair shake,” Marcus said. “But when you see the posts, even if they’re old posts, they reveal the true feelings of the judges.”

Lisa Rubin and Corky Siemaszko reported from New York, Megan Lebowitz reported from Washington

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