Heritage Foundation Legal Expert: Judge Merchan Acting Like Prosecutor

Heritage Foundation Legal Expert: Judge Merchan Acting Like Prosecutor

May 29, 2024 1 min read

WASHINGTON—Today in the New York City criminal trial against President Donald J. Trump, New York Judge Juan Merchan instructed to jurors that they do not need to have unanimity to convict the president. This means the jurors can disagree on what crime the president committed, and he would still view their choices as unanimous. This unprecedented move defies hundreds of years of legal precedent.

Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, made the following statement:

“Judge Merchan’s instructions to the jury violate former President Trump’s right to due process and have made it far more likely that the jury will convict him.


“Judges are supposed to remain neutral, but throughout this entire trial, he has been acting like a member of the prosecution team. While the judge instructed the jury that it must unanimously conclude that Trump caused a false entry to be made on the books of the Trump Organization for the purpose of concealing another crime, he told the jury that they do not have to be unanimous as to what that other crime might be.


“This is fundamentally unfair and would, no doubt, result in any conviction being thrown out on appeal. This is nothing but an attempt to damage Donald Trump’s electoral prospects.”