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Jury Selection to Begin in Trump Hush Money Trial: Live Updates

In a dreary Lower Manhattan courtroom on a recent Wednesday, Judge Juan M. Merchan called a special session for people with mental health problems who had found themselves in legal jeopardy. He calmly advised them, welcomed any sign of progress and shook the hand of a man who, thanks to medication, had changed his life.

But another type of defendant is now testing the judge’s serenity: Donald J. Trump.

The trial of Mr. Trump, accused of covering up a sex scandal before and after the 2016 presidential election, will cause a whirlwind that no other judge in New York’s vast court system has ever experienced.

Known as a pragmatic and drama-averse jurist, Judge Merchan, 61, has previously chastised Mr. Trump’s lawyers for arguments he considered frivolous and issued a silence order intended to protect prosecutors, witnesses and his own family from Mr. Trump’s vitriol. — and yet the former president continues to publish articles with photos of the judge’s daughter, a political consultant who has worked with Democratic candidates.

Although Judge Merchan is a registered Democrat, records show he was previously a Republican, and people who know him have described the judge as a moderate, law-and-order former prosecutor.

Two people close to Judge Merchan, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the judge had privately expressed pain over the attacks on his daughter, but the people said the attacks would not compromise his ability to oversee the ‘affair. Other people who know the judge said he would put Mr. Trump drama aside and exercise control over the trial.

“It’s Judge Merchan’s show,” said Jill Konviser, a retired judge who has known Judge Merchan for more than 15 years. She added: “He will do everything he can to, firstly, control his courtroom and secondly, ensure a fair trial for the accused. »

During his 17 years in office, including 13 as presiding judge of the Mental Health Court he created, Judge Merchan had his share of unusual cases. There was a murder trial involving an alleged curse on the accused; the daredevils who jumped from the World Trade Center with parachutes; and a so-called soccer mom accused of running an upscale brothel on the Upper East Side. In that case, an appeals court reduced the high bail set by Judge Merchan, calling it “unreasonable.”

None of these defendants challenged the judge like Mr. Trump, who claims the case is a witch hunt and said Judge Merchan’s silence order violated his First Amendment rights.

The former president tested the limits of the order by publishing articles that named and attacked Judge Merchan’s daughter, Loren, and his wife, Lara. The posts, written by conservative activist Laura Loomer, included photos of Loren Mercan and copies of a 2007 mortgage statement for a home owned by Judge Merchan and his wife. Previously, Mr Trump falsely accused Loren Merchan of posting a photo of himself behind bars on social media.

The trial, which could last two months as a parade of former aides and allies take sides against him, will dominate Judge Merchan’s calendar this spring.

On public holidays, he will continue to preside over the mental health court. The program serves defendants charged with crimes and diagnosed with a serious mental illness. Those admitted plead guilty and then begin a period of treatment and judicial supervision. Those who successfully complete the program may have their fees reduced or waived.

During a recent hearing, Judge Merchan showed particular interest in the relationship between a defendant and his child and praised him for his dedication.

“You want to do better by your daughter,” Judge Merchan said. “I’m sure she’ll enjoy this.”

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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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