Judge Juan Merchan says jury doesn't need to agree on what "predicate" crime Trump committed in Bragg case

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Quick Hit:

Judge Juan Merchan ruled that the jury does not need to unanimously agree on the specific 'predicate' crime Donald Trump committed to convict him of felony-level falsification of business records. Legal experts, including Greta Van Susteren, have pointed to a Supreme Court case that contradicts this ruling.

Key Details:

  • Judge's Ruling: Judge Juan Merchan ruled that for a felony conviction, the jury need not unanimously agree on which specific crime Trump intended to cover up by falsifying business records.
  • Legal Precedent: Legal analyst Greta Van Susteren highlighted a Supreme Court case, Richardson v. United States, which emphasizes the need for jury unanimity on underlying offenses.
  • Defense Argument: Trump's defense argued for unanimity on the 'predicate' crime, but the prosecution maintained that the law does not require such agreement.

Diving Deeper:

In a significant ruling, Judge Juan Merchan determined that the jury in Donald Trump's hush money trial does not need to unanimously agree on the specific 'predicate' crime Trump allegedly committed to secure a conviction for felony-level falsification of business records. This decision plays a crucial role in the prosecution's strategy to elevate the charges against Trump.

According to the ruling, while the jury must unanimously agree that Trump falsified business documents to commit or conceal another crime, they do not need to concur on what that specific crime was. This ruling sparked controversy and drew criticism from legal experts, including Greta Van Susteren, who cited the Supreme Court case Richardson v. United States. In that 1999 case, the Court ruled that jurors must unanimously agree on the specific underlying offenses in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE) prosecution.

The prosecution initially presented four possible predicate crimes, one of which was dismissed by the judge. The remaining possibilities include a tax crime and violations of state or federal election law. Trump's defense, led by lawyer Emil Bove, argued that unanimity on the predicate crime is essential for a felony conviction. However, prosecutor Matthew Colangelo contended that the law does not mandate such agreement.

“The importance of the case is not a basis for deviating from the standard application of the law,” Colangelo stated. “There’s no reason to rewrite the law for this case.”

Judge Merchan sided with the prosecution, rejecting the defense's request for a requirement that jurors must agree on a single predicate offense. This means that if some jurors believe Trump falsified documents to cover up a tax crime while others believe he did so to cover up an election crime, the jury can still convict Trump on felony-level charges despite differing on the predicate crimes.

This ruling could have significant implications not only for Trump's case but also for the interpretation of jury unanimity in complex criminal cases. As the trial progresses, this controversial decision will undoubtedly remain a focal point of legal scrutiny and public debate.

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