Juror struck from Trump hush money trial panel after friends and family questioned if she was on it

One of the jurors chosen to be on the panel for Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial has been dismissed after expressing fears of her identity being released.

Juror number two, an oncology nurse from New York, told Judge Juan Merchan on Thursday that her friends, family and colleagues had sent her news articles that included details about her life leading them to question if she was one of the jurors.

Several questions on the jury questionnaire ask potential jurors to answer specific questions about their jobs including naming their current and former employer. Additionally, some news outlets reported on the physical appearance of jurors or details about their accents.

“I don’t believe at this point I can be fair and unbiased,” the juror told Judge Merchan on Thursday morning.

Judge Merchan excused her - bringing the total jury panel from seven to six.

As soon as the juror left, Judge Merchan asked the media to cease reporting specific details about jurors that would allow them to be identified by their peers. This included redacting answers from the questions that ask about current and former employers.

So far, six jurors have been chosen to sit on the panel of 12 anonymous jurors for the criminal trial against the former president. Judge Merchan told the media that, “It kind of defeats the purpose” of having an anonymous jury when they report specific details about people.

Former U.S. President Trump’s criminal trial on charges of falsifying business records continues in New York (via REUTERS)
Former U.S. President Trump’s criminal trial on charges of falsifying business records continues in New York (via REUTERS)

Mr Trump is accused of falsifying 34 business records to cover up alleged hush money payments that were made to an adult film actress in 2016. That cover-up was allegedly part of a catch-and-kill scheme that Mr Trump engaged in to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

Mr Trump has denied all wrongdoing.

Jury selection will continue on Thursday and into Friday. Judge Juan Merchan has indicated opening arguments in the trial could begin as early as Monday.

Approximately 500 residents of Manhattan could receive notices to appear for jury duty to potentially serve on the panel. Each day, a group of 96 potential jurors enters the courtroom to be questioned.

Once appearing, they are asked if they can be fair and impartial or if they have obligations or medical needs that would prevent them from serving on the trial which could last up to two months. Those who answer they cannot be impartial or cannot serve are dismissed.

From there, jurors are randomly selected to answer questions on the survey that ask about their relationship status, general vicinity where they live, news diets and more.