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Closing Arguments in Trump NYC Trial – What Comes Next?

The procedures, the pitfalls, and the devastating impact.

Closing arguments in former President Donald Trump’s New York City trial begin today, May 28. It is expected that after the prosecution and defense wrap up, the jury will be given instructions by the judge and deliberations will commence. Trump faces 34 separate felony charges, and even just one could have a devastating impact on his ability to campaign. With the high risks, it’s worth digging deep into what will occur over the coming days.

We spoke with Liberty Nation’s Legal Affairs Editor Scott D. Cosenza Esq. to examine the procedures, the pitfalls, and the possibilities for defendant Trump.

Instructing the Jury

Mark Angelides: So, what happens after Judge Juan Merchan gives jury instructions? Do the defense and prosecutorial teams sit back and wait for a verdict? Or is it likely that the Trump team will already be figuring out what appeals to make just in case?

Scott D. Cosenza, Esq: As Tom Petty wrote, the waiting is the hardest part. After the jury is charged, there is nothing left at that point except to wait for a call from the judge’s chambers that a verdict is in. There is time enough to write appeal applications after the verdict.

Mark: And just to be clear, because of the type of charges being levied here, a guilty verdict on any of the 34 charges would require all 12 jurors to unanimously agree?

Scott: The possibilities on each count are guilty or not guilty, both requiring unanimity. If they cannot all agree, we’ll have a hung jury.

An Audience of 12

Mark: I’ve noticed over the past weekend that news outlets seem desperate to make their respective cases that Trump is either clearly guilty or obviously innocent. We’ve seen bias on each side since the beginning, but it seems to me that various media groups are making a pitch directly to the jurors.

It appears that cable news hosts and guests were trying to outline precisely why someone might find guilt or innocence. And I wonder, if the jury had been sequestered and unable to watch the news, the media coverage would have been a little different. What are your thoughts on that?

GettyImages-1156938963 press

Donald Trump 2018 (Photo by Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)

Scott: I think it’s more likely news outlets are chasing clicks and views rather than using their coverage to attempt to sway jurors. I’m not an optimist; I just think selfishness and greed trump their concern for a preferred trial outcome – no pun intended.

Mark: Why would the jury not be sequestered for such an important trial? And whose decision is that?

Scott: In New York, judges decide on sequestration. Given the cost to the state and the burden placed upon jurors, it’s no wonder the trend is a decrease in sequestering. If I were the defendant in this trial, I wouldn’t have wanted a jury that had been kept 36 nights away from their family and friends and their own beds. It is hard to believe they did not hear about Trump outside the courthouse during that time, but sequestering isn’t necessarily a cure. Jurors almost certainly won’t deliberate as long or passionately as they otherwise would if continued efforts mean denial of such comforts. I don’t suggest that’s a conscious choice – incentives work, which is why they are used everywhere, all the time. This is no different.

After the Trial

Mark: Walk me through the timeline of what comes next. And do we have any way of knowing how long each part might take?

Scott: Judge Merchan may still dismiss the charges. We are talking longshot odds, but it’s possible. If he denies that defense motion, as we should expect he will, first up before the jury will be Trump’s defense counsel, pleading his case for a not-guilty verdict. That should be over by late morning or early afternoon. Then, prosecutors will present their summation and urge jurors to bring in a finding of guilt. If it’s late in the day, expect Merchan to wait until Wednesday to charge the jury or put the case in their hands. If not, then he would do so Tuesday afternoon, reading the jury instructions and sending them away to deliberate and arrive at a verdict.

Mark: Should Trump be found guilty, on even one count, will he be held or be free to go until sentencing? And how long a sentence would he get?

Scott: Upon conviction, we should expect Trump to remain free before sentencing and to see a hearing within 60 days. That is up to the judge. Trump may be restricted from leaving the city or state; however, that means another restriction damaging his ability to campaign for president. The range of punishment is from zero days to years, but I would expect probation, given the nature of the charges and Trump’s not having prior convictions.

Sentencing concerns may have weighed heavily on Trump’s decision not to testify. If he had testified and was then found guilty, Merchan could add time for perjury.

Mark: Do you have a prediction?

Scott: I expect at least one juror has Trump Derangement Syndrome and would vote to convict him of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. If true, a not-guilty verdict on any count can be ruled out. Then the question becomes, is there a single juror on the panel who both sees reasonable doubt and will stand his or her ground to defend that verdict? It’s hard to separate hope and wishful thinking from analysis here. Since reasonable doubt abounds in this case, anyone genuinely interested in the fair application of the law would hope that at least one such juror is present, here. But prosecutors’ motivations seem clear beyond a shadow of a doubt.

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