Trump Lawyers Make Legal Maneuver That Could Pause Entire Case

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

The legal team representing Donald Trump has requested an extended postponement of his planned trial in New York City, citing excessive “pretrial publicity” as justification.

The former president claims that the state of the media in New York makes it difficult for a fair trial to take place under the current circumstances, casting doubt on the trial, which is scheduled to start in just 14 days on April 15.

Judge Juan Merchan declared last Monday that the 15th would mark the start of Trump’s hush money case. In the course of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s extensive investigation, Trump has entered a not guilty plea to all of the accusations.

Former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal commentator Glenn Kirshner, as well as NBC News legal correspondent Lisa Rubin, commented on the situation and offered their perspectives on the legal action.

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“They are asking for an indefinite postponement of the trial on the basis that the pre-trial publicity surrounding Donald Trump and his alleged criminality is so suffused throughout New York that it’s impossible for him to get a fair trial,” Rubin explained.

The focus of the legal team’s argument is the extensive pretrial media coverage, which they claim has permanently tarnished New York’s pool of prospective jurors.

They contend that the public’s perception of Trump has been so skewed by coverage of his legal issues—such as the E. Jean Carroll trial and Allen Weisselberg’s recent guilty plea to perjury in a New York civil fraud case—that it is currently impractical to hold a fair trial.

DA Bragg filed 34 allegations against Trump alleging that he falsified financial documents related to payments of hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The issue revolves around a $130,000 payment that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, reportedly orchestrated to guarantee Daniels’ silence regarding an alleged affair before the 2016 election.

The concern with pretrial publicity is that it can influence public opinion and potentially prejudice the jury pool, making it challenging to ensure a fair and impartial trial. High levels of media attention can lead to the widespread dissemination of information that may not be admissible in court, such as allegations, evidence not yet tested in court, or information deemed prejudicial.

This can shape public perceptions of the case and the guilt or innocence of the involved parties before the trial has even started. Legal systems employ several mechanisms to mitigate the effects of pretrial publicity and protect the integrity of the judicial process. These can include:

  1. Change of Venue: Moving the trial to a different location to find a less prejudiced jury pool.

2. Voir Dire: A process of jury selection that includes questioning potential jurors about their exposure to media coverage and their ability to remain impartial.

3. Sequestration of Jurors: Keeping the jury isolated from the public and media during the trial to prevent exposure to ongoing coverage.

4. Gag Orders: Restricting the parties involved in the case from discussing it publicly or with the media.

5. Postponement of the Trial: Delaying the trial to allow public interest and media coverage to decrease, which is the strategy reportedly being pursued by Donald Trump’s legal team in the case mentioned.

The emergence of digital media has made it more difficult to control pretrial publicity since it allows for the quick and extensive distribution of information.

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