A federal court on Tuesday worked to select the twelve Northern Virginians who will decide whether President Trump's former campaign chairman has committed multiple crimes.
Paul Manafort faces federal and state tribunal court in Alexandria for banking and tax fraud charges indicted by the Special Representative for Russia's participation in the 2016 elections.
Around 60 potential juries were brought into the courtroom at around 10:00. Judge TS Ellis III introduced himself and told the jury that the individuals selected would be prosecuted and the defendant pleaded guilty
"Nothing you do as an American citizen is more important than jury duty," Ellis said [1
Prosecutors claim he has not paid taxes on millions he paid for a Russian-backed political party in Ukraine, and then lied for loans
Potential jurors have already responded written questions about their knowledge of the case and their ability to put that knowledge aside. Because of her replies, Ellis rejected 37 people because they had competing obligations or suggested that they could not be impartial.
Ellis had tried to attack three other potential jurors based on the questionnaires, but the prosecutors were pushing back and writing a court file one last week had all three "confirmed that they would be able to decide the case fairly and impartially, only on the basis of the evidence presented and the legal instructions of the Court. "
Concerns about these three could be raised. the government argued. This is the process that begins on Tuesday at 10:00 am when Ellis skips the knowledge and opinions of potential jurors about the case and about personal experiences that might affect their thinking.
Sixteen people are selected: 12 jurors and four deputies.
One of the first indications of jury composition came when Ellis asked the assembled group if anyone knew anybody from the Department of Justice or did business with the department. Nine hands shot up.
"Oh my god," joked the judge once. "I will not ask this question again."
The jurors, who raised their hands, took turns and explained their connections to the Ministry of Justice. Not surprisingly for Northern Virginia, many said they worked in government or had ties to it. A woman she worked for two years in the civil department of the department. Another man told the judge he was a member of the Department of Energy who had been negotiating with Justice Department lawyers. Another woman said she had been a lawyer for the Federal Communications Commission for 31 years, also involved with the department.
All nine persons who said they had connections to the department would not interfere with their ability to be fair or impartial
Elsewhere, Ellis asked the jury pool, whether they were prosecutors or defense teams, anyone who worked for the US Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Virginia or someone who worked for the law of the defense team knew companies. None of the potential jurors raised their hands.
Ellis also went through the jury in detail through the individual charges, reminding potential juries that Manafort was innocent until proven guilty.
Manafort's defense team tried to limit the evidence presented in the trial, arguing that details of the work it did with Ukraine were not relevant to the case.
Ellis said on Tuesday that he would rule over the Ukrainian exhibits I do not want them to be handed over to the jury without explanation at the end.
"I do not want a data claw," he said. "I do not expect these 400 pages of documents to simply be thrown into the record."
Manafort faces similar charges before the Federal Court in D.C., including the lack of registration as a foreign agent. This test should begin in September.