Trump Judge Orders Hush-Money Case Jurors’ Names Kept Secret

(Bloomberg) -- New York jurors in Donald Trump’s first criminal trial will have their names, addresses and other personal information kept secret to protect them from any tampering or backlash over their role in the politically charged case.

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State court judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the trial set to start March 25, on Thursday ruled Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had demonstrated that the former president “has an extensive history of publicly and repeatedly attacking trial jurors and grand jurors.”

Prosecutors made a “compelling” argument and demonstrated Trump “has an extensive history of publicly and repeatedly attacking trial jurors and grand jurors,” Merchan said.

Bragg charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records for allegedly directing his former lawyer Michael Cohen to make hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier. Prosecutors say Trump claimed the funds were for legal fees. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

It isn’t the first time the identities of Trump jurors have been withheld. In two federal lawsuits filed by New York writer E. Jean Carroll, the juries were anonymous to protect their privacy and safety. In one case, they found Trump liable for sexual abuse and ordered him to pay Carroll $5 million. In the other, a defamation claim, he was ordered to pay her $83.3 million.

Merchan said he hasn’t yet decided a separate request for a gag order preventing the former president from making statements about the case outside of the courtroom. In their Feb. 25 request, the district attorney’s office cited Trump’s history of inflammatory comments issued on social media that had resulted in death threats for prosecutors.

On Thursday, Merchan reminded Trump and his lawyers of the judge’s earlier warning to “refrain from making comments or engaging in conduct that has the potential to incite violence, create civil unrest or jeopardize the safety or well-being of any individual.”

At Trump’s arraignment on April 4, Merchan told the former president, “If you become disruptive to such a degree that it affects my ability to preside over this case, I do have the authority to remove you from the courtroom and continue in your absence. Do you understand that?”

“I do,” Trump said.

(Updates with details of judge’s ruling beginning in third paragraph.)

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