Trump trial verdict timeline: 'Anybody's guess'

 May 21, 2024

The Trump hush money trial is approaching its end. The prosecution and defense rested their cases, and final arguments are on Tuesday, May 28.

The former president has appeared virtually daily in Manhattan court for the past five weeks as prosecutors allege he lied about 34 company records, as USA Today reported.

The outcome of this case could decide whether the former president officially becomes a felon while in the midst of a presidential campaign.

The prosecution presented 19 witnesses and dozens of pieces of evidence to prove Trump concealed reimbursements to his former Michael Cohen, who violated campaign finance laws by paying porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in 2016 to keep quiet about a decade-old alleged sexual encounter.

Trump has been indicted in four criminal cases, but this may be the only one to get to trial before the 2024 election. Twelve jurors will decide if the Republican nominee is a felon after both sides rested their arguments. That decision might come next week, say experts.

Pre-jury case recap

While jurors were excused on Tuesday, they are required to return in the afternoon for an argument between the prosecution and the defense regarding the instructions that Judge Juan Merchan will deliver to the jury prior to their deliberations.

These instructions may have a significant bearing on the case's outcome. Merchan shall declare to the jury the law that is relevant to the case at hand.

Then, in addition to determining the facts of the case (such as whether former President Donald Trump authorized Michael Cohen to pay blackmail money to porn star Stormy Daniels), he will assign them the responsibility of ascertaining whether Trump's actions were in violation of the law.

Merchan informed the jury that closing arguments would be presented on Tuesday, May 28, and appeared to have organized for them to remain late so that both sides could be heard.

If jurors are available to report to court on Wednesday, May 29, which is not a typical day off for this court, deliberations could begin at that time. The twelve members of the jury need to reach a decision that is unanimous in order to either convict or acquit Trump.

How long will the jury deliberate

Former Manhattan prosecutor Diana Florence asserts that the length of time a jury may deliberate is not capped: "But, obviously, that doesn't mean that... the world will be ending and they'll still be deliberating," Florence said.

A "hung jury" occurs when the members of the group are unable to reach a unanimous verdict; in such a situation, the judge is obligated to declare a mistrial. "You know it when you see it when it comes to a hung jury," she pointed out.

However, according to trial attorney Kevin J. O'Brien of New York, any deliberation lasting at least three days would be deemed protracted. He stated that a protracted jury deliberation and examination of the evidence might portend favorable circumstances for the prosecution.

"Defense verdicts tend to be in quickly, because people have their views, and one or more jurors are not going to budge...They don't go through the labor of weighing all the evidence," O’Brien said. "But if they're out three or four days, that tends to suggest they're really looking at the evidence. And of course, the evidence favors the prosecution."

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