Why You Should Care About The Trump Trial

by Emil Guillermo

May is Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Did you know AANHPIs are among the Trumpiest Americans, according to AAPI voter surveys? Mostly Vietnamese, followed by Filipinos and Chinese.

Is anyone switching as the so-called hush-money trial of Donald Trump goes into its’ second week of what could be a six-week trial?

Or maybe you aren’t watching the filtered versions reported on the news stations, where anchors pass on what journalists inside the trial are witnessing first hand.

For this historic trial, we really need cameras in the courtroom, to get the full Trumpyness of it all.

If it puts Trump to sleep, it must be good.

The downside of course is that cameras in the court would only aid in Trump’s claim of persecution. Of course, that’s a falsehood he’s raised.

Trump’s being prosecuted for alleged criminal acts. Not persecuted.

So, you should be following the trial, if only to witness if the American legal system is strong enough to contain a person like Trump, a man who could define what the rich and powerful can get away with in 2024.

No one is above the law, right?  But Trump surely is challenging that notion.

The prosecution alleges Trump paid off porn star Stormy Daniels to hush up about an affair they had.

The documents were falsified to cover $130,000 in payments through Trump attorney Cohen to pay off Daniels.

The allegations include working with the National Enquirer to do “checkbook journalism,” i.e. find women who want to tell stories about Trump, and then pay them off.

It’s a tabloid process called “Catch and kill,” where sources are caught, paid off, and then the stories are never published, essentially killed. It’s all in an effort to control information damaging to presidential candidate Donald Trump.

So far we have David Pecker the former Enquirer publisher admitting to this, saying it was all in an effort to aid the Trump campaign.

All that is “election interference,” according to the New York D.A. Alvin Bragg, and that would elevate this case to something we all should care about.

This case is not about effing a porn star.

It’s about effing the country and democracy.

Fixing jury selection
That we are on a good pace to achieve justice is a surprise considering a near derailment with jury selection.

No one knew how long it would go, as it could have taken weeks.

But Judge Juan Merchan sped up the process by summarily dismissing all jurors who said they could not be fair and impartial. As the attorneys used up their ten challenges, the case got to the magic number 18, 12 jurors, and 6 alternates.

Merchan also has kept the identities of the 7-man, 5-woman jury under wraps to assure anonymity after two jurors were dismissed.

But now we don’t know how representative the jury is.

Colorblind isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Among the jurors selected is an Irish immigrant who will serve as the foreman. There’s a black woman, a teacher from Harlem. The race of the other jurors picked isn’t clear from the reported description after the judge clamped down on identifiers.

But one is an investment banker who has read “Art of the Deal” and is on Truth Social. Could he be the one holdout Trump needs to hang the jury?

Aside from that, are there any Asians? Filipinos? Not clear.

Why does it matter? We need a sense that Trump is facing all New Yorkers. Not just members of the business class. Not just the Upper East Side elite. A broad base of New Yorkers.

When you say “the people of New York” vs. Donald Trump what does it mean when you don’t see someone who looks like you?

Representation is necessary. Whatever the verdict, if the jury reflects the people, we enter the trial seeking justice in good faith. That’s fair for everyone involved right at the start.

My solution for jury selection
Trump, who loves delay, couldn’t slow down jury selection.

But he could have.

Fortunately for you, the NFL— as in the National Forensic League—had as its high school debate topic during one of my years, “Resolved: Should the jury system be significantly changed.”

And from that one sentence, I recall a solution to a possible jury selection slowdown.

Select 12 jurors and 6 alternates from the voter rolls like Powerball numbers.

Juror numbers on ping-pong balls. Totally random.

Randomness is the key. It makes public opinion polls scientific. Without randomness, polls are valueless. So let that trait be used in jury selection. People were randomly selected and empaneled from the beginning.

You start with your 18 finalists, and then you excuse those people based on their answers to poll questions, as well as allowing attorneys to use their “strikes” to remove jurors.

In New York, they each have ten challenges.

Maybe in the Emil Jury Solution, we’ll increase the challenges from 10 to 20.

But no matter where you are in the process, you’ll always have 12 jurors and 6 alternates. You are done when you say you’re done, and you’re ready to go.

Is the Emil Juror Plan fair? Science says so. And the attorneys still get their say. We just don’t have to worry about filling out the juror’s box.

Starting with 12 jurors and 6 alternates saves time, the lack of which is the enemy of the courts. It causes stultifying delays, not just for this case, but for every other case in line. 

To put it in terms Donald Trump may understand, at a golf course no one likes a slow-playing foursome.

Same thing in court, anything that speeds up the process, the faster we all get to justice.

That’s what we all want with Trump on trial, in New York, and perhaps in Georgia and Florida. We want the truth beyond a reasonable doubt.

EMIL GUILLERMO is a journalist and commentator. He was the first Filipino to regularly host a national news show in 1989 when he was at NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

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