Merchan called out for warning about 'troll' comment suggesting Trump jury was compromised

The judge presiding over former President Trump’s New York criminal trial is facing scrutiny for risking the credibility of his own jury after he sent a letter to the defense team about a comment posted to the court’s public Facebook page. It implied one of the jurors discussed the guilty verdict with family prior to the trial’s conclusion.

The comment was made by a user who described himself as a “professional s— poster,” leading some to wonder why Merchan alerted Trump’s counsel without investigating the matter more thoroughly.

In a letter Friday, Judge Juan Merchan told Trump defense attorneys and Manhattan prosecutors, “Today, the Court became aware of a comment that was posted on the Unified Court System’s public Facebook page and which I now bring to your attention.

“In the comment, the user, ‘Michael Anderson,’ states: ’My cousin is a juror and says Trump is getting convicted! Thank you folks for all your hard work!!!!’” A comment by the same user on a different post said, “Thank you for all your hard [sic] against the MAGA crazies! My cousin is a juror on Trumps criminal case and they’re going to convict him tomorrow according to her.”


When someone on Facedbook called out the illegality of jurors discussing a case before a verdict is reached, the user going by “Michael Anderson” posted that he and his cousin “Now are married.”

Fox News has not verified the claims made in the comment or the identity of the user who published the post. But the claim made in the comment has a “relatively small” chance of being genuine, according to legal expert and Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley.

In a letter Friday, Judge Juan Merchan highlighted a comment posted to the court’s public Facebook page that implied one of the jurors discussed Trump’s guilty verdict with family prior to the trial’s conclusion. (AP)

“As I said when this story first broke, I remain skeptical. Accordingly, I was surprised by the court’s response before even the most rudimentary inquiry on the posting,” Turley, a constitutional law attorney, told Fox News Digital. “All of our sites, from Facebook to blogs, are subject to a constant deluge of trolls, bots and certifiably insane posters.

“The odds that such a posting is a genuine account of a juror in this day and age is relatively small. You would have a higher likelihood of finding the key to the Dead Sea Scrolls on the graffiti left on the courthouse. That does not mean that it should not be investigated, but the mere appearance of such a posting is hardly cause for an all-hands-on-deck call from the court,” he added.

Jurors were under strict orders from the judge not to discuss the case with anyone while the trial was ongoing.

The comment, according to Merchan’s letter, came in response “to a routine UCS notice, posted on May 29, 2024, regarding oral arguments in the Fourth Department of the Appellate Division unrelated to this proceeding.”

How much does Trump's conviction matter? Video

The Facebook profile for “Michael Anderson” has little publicly available information, but the user identifies as a “Transabled & professional s— poster.”

A Trump campaign official told Fox News Digital on Friday evening the campaign was “investigating the matter.”

Other legal experts also weighed in on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the jury process.

“These are the types of things that result in mistrials,” Mountain States Legal Foundation attorney William Trachman told Fox News Digital. “And this doesn’t need to be about politics. It can be about justice.”

The allegations against the juror, if they were true, would throw the “whole verdict into question,” Trachman added.


“Anytime you have a juror who’s talking about what they are going to do — especially in the future, like, ‘We’re going to do this thing tomorrow’ – that’s a really grave issue with a jury,” he added. “If this is true, it absolutely throws the whole verdict into question.”

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Fox News Digital Friday that while jury deliberations are “sacred,” a mistrial could result if “outside influences are brought in.”

“Jury deliberations are sacred, and the defense usually can’t use juror discussions as a basis for a new trial or to appeal, even if the jurors misunderstood the facts or the law.One exception, however, is if outside influences are brought into the jury deliberation room,” he said.

Rahmani said, in the event of a mistrial, Trump’s defense team must prove “both an improper outside influence and prejudice.”

“The burden for a new trial is high, though,” he said. “The defense must show both an improper outside influence and prejudice.Prejudice means the outcome may have been different.

“A stray comment on social media is not enough for a new trial.”

The comment was posted one day before Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. Trump had pleaded not guilty to all charges. (REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg)

William Jacobson, a Cornell Law School clinical professor and the founder of the Equal Protection Project, told Fox News Digital it’s important “to take this seriously but not get ahead of the facts.”

“Given how important this was for a potential presidential election, I would think if a juror was doing the things that were alleged, it is very likely that the judge would have no choice but to overturn the verdict,” he said.

Al Baker, state OCA spokesperson, said Friday that “as appropriate, the court informed the parties once it learned of this online content.”

The comment was posted one day before Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. Trump had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The six-week trial stemmed from charges brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Sarah Rumpf-Whitten is a breaking news writer for Fox News Digital and Fox Business. 

She is a native of Massachusetts and is based in Orlando, Florida.

Story tips and ideas can be sent to [email protected] and on X: @s_rumpfwhitten.

Check Also

Trump-backed John Lee wins GOP primary in competitive Nevada House race

Former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee has won the Republican primary for Nevada’s 4th …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *