Best in Moderation
Closed as Duplicate ~ MJM
In the criminal trial against the Trump Organization (Not to be confused with the civil trial against Trump himself that opened today in the Bronx)), Trump’s attorneys made an “argument” in response to the prosecutor, an argument that was so egregious, the judge interrupted and sent the jury out for a 15-minute break.
According to Vice’s Greg Walters, who is live-tweeting the trial, the prosecutor made a statement in his opening, one which I find borderline improper unless it was the opening punch. The prosecutor told the 12-person jury that “benefits that covered their personal expenses ‘was a clever scheme; it just wasn’t legal,’ Fine as an opening punch, borderline improper afterward.
But things fell apart when the Trump Organization’s defense attorney, Susan Necheles, was giving her opening statement and said that this was really a personal tax fraud case. (Remember, she’s defending the Corporation and not the Trumps personally.) She had nowhere to hide. That’s a blatant legal argument.
It was at that point when Judge Juan Merchan interrupted and excused the jury, saying he understood some of the jury members wanted a break. Even if one or two wanted a break, a judge would never interrupt an opening statement, and most jurors would be furious, wanting to hear the facts uninterrupted. A judge may occasionally caution an attorney for arguing in an opening statement but not dismiss the jury.
Once the jury was out of the courtroom, Judge Merchan warned Necheles not to get into the law: “I will permit you to say that he [Trump] acted solely for his benefit, and that’s it. It’s a confusing area of the law, and for them to get confused at this point is not going to help anybody.”
“Acting for his own benefit” is an interpretation of fact.” “This is a personal tax fraud case,” is a legal argument.