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‘A surprise’: ex-judge tells MSNBC it’s unusual Merchan pointed Trump jury to ‘specific’ evidence in instructions

by

Daily Caller News Foundation

Former state court judge Carol Lam said on Wednesday that she was surprised that Judge Juan Merchan noted particular evidence for the jurors to consider during jury instructions in former President Donald Trump’s New York trial.

Merchan pointed out bank documents related to Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen’s corporations and Cohen’s payment to porn star Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer Keith Davidson, as well as other records for the jury’s consideration on Wednesday, according to CNN. Lam on “José Díaz-Balart Reports” said this was a “surprise” to her as jury instructions typically do not contain “references to specific pieces of evidence.”

WATCH:

“There were a couple of places in the jury instructions where the judge actually pointed the jury to specific pieces of evidence and said, ‘these are pieces of evidence you can consider, for example, in trying to determine whether there were falsified business records. You can look at these bank records. You can look at these invoices.’ That was a surprise to me because generally, jury instructions don’t include references to specific pieces of evidence that the judge seems to be pointing the jury to,” Lam said. “Those who practice New York law may have some other take on this. But that was a little bit of a surprise.”

New York sample jury instructions suggest judges are supposed to tell jurors generally what evidence they may consider, such as testimony and exhibits, but they do not contain provisions about informing the panel about specific evidence.

Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy on Wednesday asserted Merchan’s jury instructions are rare as they direct jurors that it is not necessary for them to be in agreement regarding what “other crime” Trump committed, with the panel instead receiving a choice of three separate crimes they can select from.

“This is anything but standard. It’s the antithesis of standard,” McCarthy said. “The idea that they do not have to agree on what the other crime is. We spent six weeks wondering what is the other crime and at the end the thud we all get hit with, there’s three or four of ’em and you could pick one or the other and they don’t have to agree on it.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted Trump in March 2023 on 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying business documents related to reimbursing Michael Cohen for the payment he made for a nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. In order to charge the former president with a felony, Bragg alleged the intention of the alleged falsification was to conceal or commit another crime, but he did not note the specific aggravating offense in the indictment.

Merchan is allowing jurors to choose between a federal election law, falsification of additional business documents or a tax law violation, according to CNN.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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