Trump Indicted In Manhattan - The Legal Consequences

Prompt Dismissal By Judge, Or Juror Nullification At Trial, Are Downside Possibilities
WASHINGTON - March 30, 2023 - PRLog -- Trump has been indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan, notes public interest law professor John Banzhaf,

From a strictly legal point of view, there are several possible consequences.

Now that Bragg has obtained an indictment, almost certainly the first step will be for Trump's lawyers to file a motion to dismiss the indictment on several different legal grounds.

First they would argue that it based upon a faulty legal theory that a mere misrepresentation on a government document (i.e., recording a payment of hush money as a legal expense) is by itself criminal, and especially that it becomes a felony simply because the purpose may have been to violate a federal (not state) campaign statute.

Second, Trump's lawyers would argue that the charges are barred by statutes of limitations; an argument complicated by the usual circumstances of the situation.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, his lawyers will seek a dismissal based upon the argument of prosecutorial misconduct, and especially selective prosecution.

In support they would point to the undisputed facts that several prosecutors (including Bragg himself once) who had reviewed the case declined to prosecute, and that there is no logical reason (e.g. newly discovered evidence) to suddenly reinvigorate what has been called a "zombie" case now years after the facts became known.

Trump can also make a strong case for selective prosecution (or selective enforcement) which occurs when prosecutors single out one person for charges when they generally choose not to charge other people who committed similar offenses

His lawyers will argue that simple document misrepresentation cases are usually handled without bringing a criminal prosecution (e.g. as a civil matter), and that "bootstrapping" a misrepresentation as an election law felony has never before even been tried, much less approved.

If the indictment is dismissed on any one or more of these grounds - something which could happen quickly, and even before any of the other indictments are made public - it will strengthen the hand of those who argue that Trump is being persecuted, even though the other cases and situations are very different.

If a Manhattan indictment of Trump does survive a multi-prong motion to dismiss and goes to trial, the same assertions about prosecutorial misconduct and selective prosecution may well persuade at least one juror to vote "no" even if he believes that Trump is guilty beyond a reasonable account.

So, now that Trump has finally been indicted, people should keep their eyes on the (legal) ball, and not on the (political) bluster, suggests the law professor.   @profbanzhaf

GW Law
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