‘Not Good For Bragg’: Turley Responds To Jury Request In Trump Trial


OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.

Famed Georgetown University law school professor and Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley said Wednesday, following hours of deliberation by the jury in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, that their request to hear Judge Juan Merchan’s instructions again wasn’t necessarily a good thing for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecutors.

“Well, as you’ve noted, we are all speculating here. But there’s nothing else to do,” Turley told host Sean Hannity Wednesday evening. “I’m surprised that some other networks have said this is really great news, that they sent this out. I have to tell you, as a criminal defense attorney, I would not view this as clearly good news for the prosecution.

“The only reason why a jury would send out a request to hear the instructions again is if there’s a disagreement about what the instructions are. That indicates that there may be a conflict with jurors in that room about what their standard is and how they are supposed to look at the evidence,” Turley continued.

“There are various reasons why these particular parts of the testimony would be demanded by the jury. Among them is a rather intriguing one: the judge told the jury that if [former Trump lawyer Michael] Cohen lied to any material fact, a jury could disregard all of his testimony. He noted that that means that you have to look for — he’s someone who’s not obviously just a serial perjurer, but he’s an accomplice,” Turley added.

He went on to note that the jury sent two notes to Merchan, the first for transcripts of previous testimony from key witnesses, including Cohen, and the second to rehear his instructions.


“So they happen to have requested the Trump meeting, which the government cited as cooperation for Cohen, so it may have been that’s a started logically and say first of all, can we consider anything that Michael Cohen has said? And that would lead them to cooperation which would lead to the Trump Tower meetings. It would also lead them to the instruction. That is what is going on? Not necessarily. That is one possibility. The other possibilities include that they are looking at this evidence and trying to figure out what they can establish as fact, not just to insinuate or assume the facts,” he said.


The first note requested, per NBC News:

  • David Pecker’s testimony regarding the phone conversation with Trump while Pecker was in the investor meeting
  • Pecker’s testimony regarding life rights for Karen McDougal
  • Pecker’s testimony regarding the Trump Tower meeting
  • Michael Cohen’s testimony regarding the Trump Tower meeting

A seasoned defense attorney heavily criticized Merchan’s lengthy instructions to the jury before he sent them to deliberate the case on Wednesday.

After a brief sidebar between Judge Merchan and all of the lawyers involved, the jury was sent off to begin deliberations in the unprecedented case involving a former U.S. president. David Oscar Markus, a seasoned criminal defense attorney, expressed his astonishment at the judge’s behavior during this critical phase on CNN.

“The jury must be overwhelmed,” Markus told a CNN panel. “To have all of these instructions just read to them without them getting a copy is going to be overwhelming for them.”

Jurors usually get a written copy of the instructions during their discussions. But in this trial, they will only use their notes and can ask for the instructions to be reread, which Markus strongly criticized.

“It’s crazy that the lawyers were not able to discuss the instructions in their closings yesterday,” he added. “Typically, lawyers can go through the instructions and explain why they’ve met them or why the government hasn’t met them.”

The absence of a critical discussion phase requires jurors to piece together the legal puzzle independently, which is a challenging task given the complexity and significance of the case. “The jurors right now must be wondering what all this is about,” Markus explained.

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