Judge Alerts Trump, Manhattan DA of Possible Jury Confidentiality Breach
Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, U.S May 30, 2024. Steven Hirsch/Pool via REUTERS

By Catherine Yang

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan on June 7 alerted counsel for former President Donald Trump and the Manhattan District Attorney of a potential juror confidentiality breach.

“Today, the Court became aware of a comment that was posted on the Unified Court System’s public Facebook page and which I now bring to your attention,” Justice Merchan wrote in a letter.

“In the comment, the user, ‘Michael Anderson,’ states: ‘My cousin is a juror and says Trump is getting convicted  Thank you folks for all your hard work!!!!’”

The post was made on May 29, the day the jury began deliberations, one day before the guilty verdict on May 30.

The comment had been made on a post unrelated to Justice Merchan’s courtroom, for the appellate division in the New York Supreme Court.

The comment, and others made by the user on the New York Courts Facebook page, have since been deleted. They came from an account describing itself as a “professional [expletive] poster,” raising questions about the validity of the comment.

After Justice Merchan’s letter was published, the Facebook post saw an influx of comments about the Trump trial.

Justice Merchan did not state that the court was able to confirm that the social media user was truly in contact with a juror.

The alert is expected to raise questions of whether jurors discussed the case against the judge’s strict instructions, and the degree to which they may have been influenced or researched the case outside the courtroom.

The defense may question the partiality of the jury, referencing their previous motion for a change of venue, given that the post suggests the jury had been about their verdict prior to reviewing evidence and a day’s deliberation.

Former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman commented on social media that, if true, it may go beyond a mistrial and end the case because of double jeopardy.


On May 30, a jury of 12 returned a guilty verdict for former President Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.

Justice Merchan has set a July 11 sentencing hearing, which will come four days before the Republican National Convention. Defense counsel had requested sentencing to take place mid- or late-July, as counsel are involved in a separate federal case for former President Trump in Florida and have several motion deadlines and hearings scheduled for June.

Before the sentencing, former President Trump will need to have a pre-sentence investigation interview, which will inform the judge’s sentencing. On June 7, the judge issued an order allowing defense attorney Todd Blanche to be present during the interview.

Former President Trump may face a fine, imprisonment, house confinement, or probation. The judge may also stay any penalty during the duration of an appeal, which defense counsel have said they will seek upon sentencing.

Parties have a June 13 deadline to file motions for the judge to rule on at the hearing, which may include an order on whether the gag order on President Trump is still in effect.

Last week, Mr. Blanche told reporters he assumed the gag order had expired with the end of the trial, but upon seeking clarification from the judge, prosecutors requested permission to file a motion to argue for keeping the gag order on the former president.

In a brief letter to the judge, prosecutors argued that the gag order is necessary to maintain “the integrity of the judicial proceedings” and prevent the intimidation of the court.

Defense attorneys had argued that maintaining the gag order after trial would only have the opposite of this intended effect.

“An enforced silence, however limited, solely in the name of preserving the dignity of the bench, would probably engender resentment, suspicion, and contempt much more than it would enhance respect,” defense counsel wrote, citing the same case that Justice Merchan cited to justify the gag order on President Trump.

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