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Commentary: Facebook Post Sparks Debate Over Possible Mistrial in Trump Case


by Roger Kimball

 

I think that it was the great Miranda Devine, she of the “laptop from hell” fame, who first called the world’s attention to the latest wrinkle in the long-running “Get Trump” extravaganza in New York.  Anyway, I first heard about it from her post on X Friday. “If this is legit,” she wrote, commenting on a letter purportedly from Acting Justice Juan Merchan to Donald Trump’s Counsel and the Manhattan DA’s office,  “it should wipe out Trump’s conviction.”

Eh, what?

At issue was someone who (again, purportedly) posted on the Court’s public Facebook page a message from one “Michael Anderson,”  a self-described “professional shitposter,” who claimed to have inside information that Trump was about to be convicted. “My cousin is a juror and says Trump is getting convicted. Thank you folks for all your hard work!” The comment, Merchan wrote, was posted on May 29, a day before Trump’s guilty verdict rolled off the tongues of Merchan’s jury.

For a brief moment, the internet was ablaze with speculative comment, elated or anguished depending on the ideological coloration of the poster.  If it turned out that a juror had disobeyed his orders and spilled the beans about the verdict to someone who then posted the bulletin on Facebook, would that constitute grounds for a mistrial?  After all, “prejudice to the defendant” is one of the stipulated grounds for a mistrial. CPL § 280.10 of the statute says, in part, that “the court must declare a mistrial”   “upon motion of the defendant, when there occurs during the trial an error or legal defect in the proceedings, or conduct inside or outside the courtroom, which is prejudicial to the defendant and deprives him of a fair trial.”

Is that what we have here?  It’s hard to say.  The original Facebook post was removed.  As far as I know, the juror in question has not been identified—and that’s assuming that a juror did inform “Michael Anderson” of the verdict. Did the post result in “substantial and irreparable prejudice to the defendant’s case?”

And leaving that question to one side, who would it be who would declare the mistrial even if such prejudice were irrefragable? Why, the judge, Juan M. Merchan, Acting Justice, New York Supreme Court, that’s who. Has there ever, outside the annals of Tammany Hall, been in American history a more conflicted jurist than Merchan? He is certainly up towards the top of that rogues’ gallery.

If you’re a judge, you are forbidden from making political contributions. But Merchan, who was “randomly selected” to preside over three Trump-related cases, has made contributions to several Democrat causes and politicians, including Joe Biden. The contributions are all small.  But as Andy McCarthy pointed out, you don’t make small-dollar contributions to affect an election. You do it to show that “you’re on the team.”

If you are a judge, you are supposed to take special care to avoid conflicts of interest and even the “appearance of impropriety.” But Merchan’s daughter Loren, president of the Chicago-based progressive consulting firm “Authentic Campaigns,” has raised millions for such Democratic figures as Adam Schiff, who took the lead in bringing articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Rep. Elise Stefanik brought an ethics complaint against Merchan but that, predictably, has gone exactly nowhere.

Why do I say “predictably?” Because in Democratic redoubts such as New York and Washington, D.C., the fix is always in. They are, as a friend pointed out to me, run like casinos.  In the long run, the house always wins.  The whole-of-government judicial assault against Donald Trump has abrogated several of his Constitutional rights, not least those outlined in the Sixth Amendment. “In all criminal proceedings,” that brief Amendment reads, in part, “the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State . . . and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor.” But Judge Merchan declined to tell Trump (or the jury) exactly what crime he was accused of and forbade his counsel from bringing several favorable witnesses to testify.

The travesty that was New York v. Trump has been subject to reams of expert analysis and microscopic dissection, as much by public-spirited anti-Trump commentators as by those on the pro-Trump side of the docket.

Judge Merchan will simply skate over this embarrassing Facebook post, just as he skated over the rights of the defendant, Donald J. Trump.  The house always wins in the end. Applied to the rule of law, that means that the regime party’s interests always take precedence over the rule of law.

Rather, the “rule of law,” just as Lenin taught us, is simply whatever the party demands. For the dedicated communist (or Democrat progressive), the very idea of “impartiality” is a bourgeois construct, a MAGA (or ultra-MAGA) fiction, and therefore eminently dispensable. Juan Merchan and his alter-ego District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, have just earned themselves a footnote in the dismal annals of legal depravity.  Do not, however, expect any smidgeon of remorse to trouble their consciences. Those presiding over the house accounts do not have time for such sentimentalities.  Ideological conformity and the power and perquisites such conformity brings are their heart’s desires, their existential cynosures.

The house always wins. That’s what matters—fairness, impartiality, and the very idea of a non-partisan application of the law be damned.

Welcome to the end of the republic.

– – –

Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the president and publisher of Encounter Books. He is the author and editor of many books, including The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine’s Press), The Rape of the Masters (Encounter), Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse (Ivan R. Dee), and Art’s Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity (Ivan R. Dee). Most recently, he edited and contributed to Where Next? Western Civilization at the Crossroads (Encounter) and contributed to Against the Great Reset: Eighteen Theses Contra the New World Order (Bombardier).
Photo “Donald Trump” by Donald J. Trump.

 

 





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