Judge issues protective order on juror names for Trump N.Y. trial

The New York judge overseeing Donald Trump’s criminal trial later this month for alleged business records fraud has ruled that jurors’ names will be shielded from the public but known to the lawyers, the former president and his consultants.

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan issued a ruling largely granting the request by the Manhattan district attorney’s office to shield the identifying details of prospective or actual jurors from the public to avoid possible harassment or tampering.

Trump, who is again seeking the presidency and is the likely Republican nominee, has a long history of publicly attacking people involved in legal proceedings against him. Prosecutors and judges and their staffs have received threats and harassing messages from Trump supporters after being criticized by him.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg cited those threats in requesting that the jurors’ names and identifying information be shielded from public view. He also asked for a new gag order to limit what Trump can say about participants in the trial.

Merchan did not rule Thursday on that request.

In his order, Merchan said that despite the protective order for juror identities, the jury selection process would remain open to the public.

“To be clear, the parties have not requested, and this Court has not agreed, to close the Courtroom during the jury selection or at any other time during the proceedings,” the judge wrote. “Access to the courtroom by the public and the press will not be tempered in any way as a result of these protective measures.”

Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records, a felony in New York when the purpose of the fraud is to “commit another crime or to aid or conceal” an illegal act.

Bragg has charged that Trump oversaw a scheme during the 2016 presidential campaign to pay money to an adult-film star to keep quiet about an alleged past sexual liaison, and later caused false records to be kept about those payments.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied all wrongdoing. He has complained that the New York charges — and the three other indictments he faces — are politically motivated efforts to derail his White House candidacy.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin March 25 in what would be the first criminal trial of a former president of the United States.

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