Donald Trump will get juror names at New York criminal trial but they’ll be anonymous to the public

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NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump will be allowed to know the names of jurors at his upcoming New York hush-money criminal trial. The public will not.

Manhattan Judge Juan Manuel Merchan ruled Thursday to keep the yet-to-be-picked jury anonymous, with limited exceptions for the former president, his defense lawyers, prosecutors, jury consultants and legal staffs.

Only Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors will be allowed to know the addresses of the jurors’ homes and workplaces, Merchan said. Trump could risk forfeiting access to the names if he were to disclose them publicly.

Jury selection is slated to begin March 25.

The ruling, in response to a request from prosecutors, applies not only to jurors seated for the trial, but also prospective jurors who may be summoned to court but don’t make the cut, the judge said.

It stops short of having a fully anonymous jury, as was the case in both of Trump’s recent federal civil trials involving the writer E. Jean Carroll. In those trials, not even Trump nor his lawyers knew the jurors’ names.

Jurors’ names are typically public record, but courts sometimes allow exceptions to protect the jury, most notably in cases involving terrorism, organized crime or when there’s been prior jury tampering.

Despite the restrictions, Merchan said has no plans to close the courtroom for jury selection or at any other time in the trial.

“Access to the courtroom by the public and the press will not be tempered in any way as a result of these protective measures,” Merchan wrote in a seven-page ruling.

Trump is accused in the hush-money case of falsifying internal records kept by his company to hide the nature of payments to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who paid porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 as part of an effort during Trump’s 2016 campaign to bury claims he’d had extramarital sexual encounters.

Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner, is charged in New York with 34 counts of falsifying business records, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, though there is no guarantee that a conviction would result in jail time. Barring a last-minute delay, it will be the first of his four criminal cases to go to trial.

Last week, amid a slew of pretrial requests, the Manhattan district attorney’s office asked Merchan to restrict access to juror names and keep them from the public, citing what it said was Trump’s “extensive history of attacking jurors in other proceedings.”

Among other things, prosecutors noted that Trump had made social media posts saying the jury that convicted his former adviser Roger Stone of obstructing a congressional investigation and other charges in 2020 was “totally biased,” “tainted,” and “DISGRACEFUL!”

They also noted that he’d posted about the grand jury that indicted him in New York and referred to the special grand jury in Georgia that investigated his efforts to subvert his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden as “an illegal Kangaroo Court” and “a ‘Special’ get Trump Grand Jury.”

Putting guardrails up around access to juror names in the hush-money case and barring Trump from disseminating them were necessary steps to “minimize obstacles to jury selection, and protect juror safety,” prosecutors said.

Trump’s lawyers said they agreed with keeping jurors’ names from the public, but for different reasons. They cited what they called “extremely prejudicial pretrial media attention associated with this case” and disputed the prosecution’s characterization of his previous comments about jurors.

Prosecutors “do not identify a single example where President Trump mentioned — let alone attacked or harassed — any juror by name,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in a response Monday. The only examples they cited were instances where those jurors identified themselves publicly and discussed their work as jurors with the media, Trump’s lawyers said.

Along with limiting access to juror names, prosecutors wanted Merchan to warn Trump that he’ll lose that privilege if he discloses names publicly or engages in harassing or disruptive conduct that threatens the safety or integrity of jurors.

Merchan said he’ll rule on that when he decides on the prosecution’s request for a gag order that would bar Trump from making public statements about jurors, witnesses and others involved in the case.