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How is a jury for America's most controversial president selected?

BLOTTO HOST INTRO: The jury selection for Trump’s trial continues today in the city. Jurors play a critical role in the outcome of the case and forming an unbiased jury for America’s most controversial president, is proving to be a difficult task. 


Professor Ronald Sullivan, from Harvard Law School, tells us what jury selection in a blue city like New York, will look like. 



BLOTTO: We all know that New York City is one of the most liberal cities in the nation. So how is an unbiased jury picked?


SULLIVAN: What happens is the judge and the lawyers get to ask questions of the juror. And the answers to those questions gives both the judge and the juror some inkling as to whether the particular juror might be unbiased. The rule is not that a juror comes into the courtroom unbiased, rather than whether, despite any biases, they can nonetheless put those things aside and render a fair verdict according to the instructions that the judge gives them.


BLOTTO: Can you give us an example or examples of these kinds of questions that prosecutors or the defense lawyers would ask potential jurors?


SULLIVAN: So there are two sets of questions. The first is very expressing direct how many people believe that they can never change their opinion about this case? And there are some of those people who have from the jump answer those questions. Yes, I believe that I am too biased, then you also have questions about certain religious affiliations, there are some religions or at least some subgroups within the dominant religions that believe that they cannot judge and that judging is antagonistic to their training their religious training, and so they're unable to sit on a jury because they cannot stand in judgment of another. The others are less direct. Did you attend the stop the steel rally? Did you attend the Black Lives Matter rally? And from these questions, judges and infer that a person may not be able to deliver fair and impartial verdict? And depending on the answer to those questions, the judge and or the lawyers will get to ask follow up questions that start to start to develop this idea.


BLOTTO: And we just received news this morning that one of the jurors was dismissed due to concerns of her identity being public. So what kind of setbacks does this specific situation pose on the trial as a whole?


SULLIVAN: It will not slow down the trial, but it will slow down the jury selection process. The length of the process, ultimately will show that the court took its time to ensure that the jury was fair. You know, sometimes you can't rush justice. Years ago, I tried the case of the former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez was a double murder case. And so it took us a month to choose that jury. It's a long time. I imagine this jury will take a week or two to impanel. But that's okay.


BLOTTO: One week, two weeks doesn't sound too long compared to a month, right.


SULLIVAN: I do firmly believe that they can select a jury even in New York, which which we know heavily favored Biden or disfavored, Trump, even there, they'll be able to select the constitutionally adequate jury. So the case will happen might not be for two or three weeks, but it will happen.


BLOTTO: Thank you so much, Professor Sullivan.


SULLIVAN: Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

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