Politics

Trump Jury Sends Judge Merchan Odd Request On Day Two of Deliberations

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


The second day of jury deliberations in the hush money trial of former President Donald Trump continued much like the first, according to reports.

Jurors once again asked presiding Judge Juan Merchan to repeat parts of a 53-page instruction booklet that he had refused to provide in writing.

They were particularly interested in the judge’s metaphor about rain that he used when giving them instructions on Wednesday.

According to CNN, this is what Merchan said to jurors:

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For example, suppose you go to bed one night when it is not raining, and when you wake up in the morning, you look out your window; you do not see rain, but you see that the street and sidewalk are wet and that people are wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas. Under those circumstances, it may be reasonable to infer, that is conclude, that it rained during the night. In other words, the fact of it having rained while you were asleep is an inference that might be drawn from the proven facts of the presence of the water on the street and sidewalk, and people in raincoats and carrying umbrellas.

If observers found Merchan’s storytelling skills lacking, they aren’t alone. His rain metaphor is part of nearly 30 pages being read back to the jury Thursday morning after jurors expressed frustration at having to memorize numerous pages of instructions. An NBC legal correspondent noted Wednesday that Merchan and both sides failed to agree on providing the jury with written instructions and testimony transcripts, fearing that reading witness words could cloud jurors’ memories of the trial itself.

Merchan made a significant impact on the trial when he informed the 12-member jury that a unanimous agreement is not required to find the former president guilty on all 34 felony counts. According to Fox News reporter John Roberts, Merchan explained that three sets of four jurors could find Trump guilty of different crimes, and he would treat this as a “unanimous verdict.”

The muddled metaphors and expansive definition of guilt have left Trump supporters more convinced that the trial is rigged against the former president. They point to Merchan, who has donated to Democratic politicians, and his daughter, who is a Democratic political operative whose clients have included former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff. Despite a gag order, Trump has criticized Merchan for unfair treatment and paid $9,000 in fines for violating the order by targeting the judge’s daughter and witnesses in the case.

A seasoned defense attorney heavily criticized Merchan’s lengthy instructions to the jury. David Oscar Markus, an experienced criminal defense attorney, expressed his astonishment at the judge’s behavior during a CNN segment later Wednesday.

“The jury must be overwhelmed,” Markus told a CNN panel. “To have all of these instructions just read to them without them getting a copy is going to be overwhelming for them.”

Jurors usually get a written copy of the instructions during their discussions. But in this trial, they will only use their notes and can ask for the instructions to be reread, which Markus strongly criticized.

“It’s crazy that the lawyers were not able to discuss the instructions in their closings yesterday,” he added. “Typically, lawyers can go through the instructions and explain why they’ve met them or why the government hasn’t met them.”

The absence of a critical discussion phase requires jurors to piece together the legal puzzle independently, which is a challenging task given the complexity and significance of the case. “The jurors right now must be wondering what all this is about,” Markus explained.

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