Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Appalling Courtroom Instructions by the Presiding Judge to Help Convict Trump

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun6,2024 #finance

Let’s tune into Jonathan Turley’s analysis of Judge Juan Merchan’s instructions to the jury in the New York Hush Money Trial of Trump.

Turley is a legal analyst and author of “The Indispensable Right: Free Speech in an Age of Rage

Here is a link to Jonathan Turley’s Tweet Thread.

Jonathan Turley’s Analysis

  • I am back in the courtroom for the instructions.
  • This judge has stated that he wants to stay close to the standard instructions. The problem is that this case is anything but standard. We will be looking for some of the outstanding issues, particularly on the standard of proof for key elements like “unlawful means.”
  • Yesterday was chilling as the judge allowed the prosecutors to engage in what some of us view as highly improper arguments. That included effectively testifying on facts not in the record. Merchan’s view of “argument” was considerably broader for the prosecution than the defense. For the prosecutors making objections, the strike zone seemed like it stretched from dugout to dugout. For the defense, it seemed the size of a postage stamp.
  • Judge Merchan is now instructing the jury. He has ruled that the jury will not be given copies of the instructions but can ask for them to be read to them again. [Mish: This is the norm in New York state trials, but it does seem silly.]
  • Judge Merchan is giving the standard instruction that they can reach inferences based on facts such as inferring that it rained from seeing people in raincoats. It is a rather quaint instruction after Merchan allowed the prosecutors to state as a “fact” that federal election violations occurred in this case. There is no such violation in this case, but Merchan did nothing to correct the erroneous impression. To carry forward the analogy, Steinglass was just yelling at the jury that there was a virtual hurricane on a perfectly sunny day but the judge remained entirely silent.
  • Merchan also instructed that they may consider the interests of the witness in the outcome of the case. One of the least convincing parts of the closing argument of the prosecution was the claim that Michael Cohen was attacking Trump and selling merchandise to feed his family. Steinglass portrayed Cohen as struggling in his luxury multimillion dollar condo while making millions. It was a far cry from pushing a food cart down Broadway to support his family.
  • Merchan instructed that Cohen is an accomplice and, as such, there is a special concern over such testimony particularly when there are benefits for testimony. There must be corroborating evidence. In other words, you may not convict the defendant solely on the basis of the testimony of Cohen.
  • After the federal election violation, Merchan says that the second crime is falsifying other documents. This creates a redundancy with the NY election violation on the falsifying documents. It allows the government to allege the falsification of documents as a felony and then allows such falsification to be also the unlawful means for certain documents. The third is the violation of tax laws.
  • So a dead misdemeanor for falsifying business records was zapped back into life by alleging that under NY election law 17-152 it was done to influence the election by the unlawful means of falsification of business records. It is so circular as to produce vertigo. So the jury finds some documents were falsified to use the unlawful means of falsifying other documents. That is only one of three possible crimes and the jury does not have to agree on which was the basis for their conviction.
  • The absence of a witness on media practices is becoming more and more significant. Such a witness could have discussed how stories are often killed or planted by campaigns in light of the press exception for common practices by the media. Instead, the prosecutor was allowed to state as a fact what the common practices of the media are in a campaign.

Comments

The Jury is now in deliberation.

This Will Backfire on Democrats

This trial should never have occurred. The state wants a conviction for an unspecified crime that Trump was never charged with, and it all started with a misdemeanor .

This can backfire spectacularly. The easiest way is for acquittal.

But the most spectacular way would be for an appeals court to overturn the conviction and absolutely blast Justice Merchan for blatant errors.

The best Democrats can hope for is a hung jury. Ironically, if there is a decision, it may be better for the Democrats if there is no conviction.

Should Libertarians Should Vote for Trump?

Yesterday, I asked and answered the question Should Libertarians Should Vote for Trump?

I give my views as a Libertarian and the views of an WSJ writer who is also a Libertarian.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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