Former President Donald Trump may have received some great news about the jury pool for his classified documents trial.
According to the New York Times, Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who has taken control of the case involving the former president, indicated that the trial would likely be held in the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, located at the northern end of the Southern District of Florida.
The initial arraignment took place in Miami, likely due to the location of the duty magistrate, but Judge Cannon’s involvement gives her the authority to move the trial to Fort Pierce, where she primarily presides. The Fort Pierce courthouse, located along a busy state highway, is Judge Cannon’s home base.
This decision may prove beneficial to Trump because, unlike New York juries, the potential jury pool for the Fort Pierce courthouse is composed primarily of residents from counties that strongly support Trump.
The area that supplies potential jurors to the courthouse consists of one swing county and four others that have a strong conservative leaning. The counties surrounding Fort Pierce, such as Okeechobee, Highlands, Martin, and Indian River, have shown strong support for Trump in the past elections. In both the 2016 and 2020 elections, Trump secured significant victories in these counties. Only St. Lucie County is considered a swing district.
John Morgan, a trial lawyer who founded a large personal injury firm, told the New York Times, “It is solid, solid Trump country.”
Having the trial at a location where he has solid support does not guarantee the outcome, but it does increase the chances of a fair shot at acquittal for the former president in one of the most political trials in U.S. history.
According to a Reuters poll taken after Trump was indicted, 81 percent of self-identified Republicans said politics was driving the case.
The former president is charged with 37 federal charges that primarily revolve around allegations of obstruction and unlawful retention of defense information.
The prosecution will allege that Trump stored numerous classified documents at his Florida resort and subsequently refused to return them to the FBI and the National Archives.
A great deal of how a jury makes a decision depends on perception and the ability to be unbiased.
But unless the lawyers in the case are able to find 12 jurors
Republicans, who have witnessed the unfairness of the comparison between the treatment of Trump and Joe Biden, who took classified documents when he was vice president and was not qualified to declassify them, and Hillary Clinton, who admitted to destroying servers and phones containing government material, will be more likely to see the trial as politically motivated in an attempt to keep the former president out of the oval office for a second time.
On the other hand, a jury unfamiliar with these other cases, because of the lack of coverage and complicity from the media, may be less likely to make these connections, and the media hatred and vitriol over the past six years will almost surely play some part in their decision making.
The Justice Department and special counsel Jack Smith conducted a months-long investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents before a grand jury in Washington. A fair trial would have been less likely if the case had been prosecuted there.
So this may be a good sign for Trump.
However, the Fort Pierce location is not set in stone; Judge Cannon has still left the possibility of moving the trial open.
Despite the political composition of the region, it must be said that the trial’s outcome will ultimately depend on the evidence presented and the arguments made by the prosecution and defense.
But a few friendly faces in the jury pool couldn’t hurt.