Paul Manafort worked as a manager for the Trump campaign for approximately three months back in 2016.
A high-profile trial has been taking place over the last three weeks in the courtroom of Judge T. S. Ellis. Manafort has been charged with eighteen counts of income tax evasion and bank fraud. The jury in the case is presently deliberating.
Still smarting from the unexpected results of the 2016 election, many in the mainstream media have been feverishly covering each step of the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as well as the Manafort trial, which they view as the singular most important legal event for Mueller thus far.
However, two recent events that happened during the trial have seemingly generated concern and even anxiety within the mainstream media over the possibility that the trial’s outcome may not be the one for which the outlets had longed.
First, Manafort’s defense team rested its case without presenting witnesses or actual evidence of any kind, making it abundantly clear that the defense lawyers were taking the position that the prosecution had not met its burden of proof.
Second, while still in the process of deliberating, the jury asked four questions of Judge Ellis.
The first three questions dealt with relatively trivial matters concerning forms, exhibit lists, and such. However, the fourth question, which requested that the judge “redefine reasonable doubt,” set off waves of nervous discussion within mainstream newsrooms.
In this case, the burden of proof that rests on Muller’s shoulders is to present sufficient evidence so that the jury will be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Manafort is guilty of the crimes with which he has been charged.
By inquiring about the “reasonable doubt” standard, it could well be the case that the jury had been wrestling with the issue of whether or not the evidentiary burden had been met, which could indicate that a possible hung jury, or even an acquittal, is forthcoming.
Either of the above results would constitute a major blow to the already sinking reputation of the special counsel probe. The partisans that populate the newsrooms of the mainstream media would not be able to tolerate such a result.
This may explain why CNN, the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico, the New York Times, NBC Universal, and the Associated Press sprang into action and had their lawyers file a motion to seek the release of the full names and addresses of every one of the jurors.
The timing of the request is extremely suspicious, and there is little, if any, newsworthiness in obtaining this type of information. The mainstream media were apparently unconcerned with the names and addresses of the jurors when they were selected weeks ago, yet they rushed into court to seek the unveiling of the jurors’ names and addresses on the day after the same jurors inquired about the meaning of “reasonable doubt.”
Fortunately, Judge Ellis ruled against the motion, and in the process revealed that he had personally received death threats and therefore had to be guarded by federal agents.
Judge Ellis also indicated that he was convinced that the jurors could be placed in harm’s way if their names and personal contact information were released. He additionally told the courtroom that the jurors were “scared” and “afraid.”
This jury has not been sequestered. The media outlets that filed the motion are fully aware that there is a high probability that the individual jurors will find out that a host of wide-reaching news organizations were seeking to expose their names and locations.
Manafort has a constitutional right to a trial by a jury of his peers. The jurors, who are fulfilling a civic duty, should have their personal privacy respected during the deliberation process. Outing the names of jurors would be an unethical and egregious interference with due process.
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