Judge Merchan's Instruction to the Jury Will Leave Your Jaw on the Floor [UPDATED]

AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Fox's John Roberts has since issued an update to his original "smorgasbord" interpretation of Judge Merchan's instructions. He posted, "It is more nuanced than that. All 12 need unanimity that Trump committed a crime. But the underlying unlawful means is a smorgasbord they can pick from - and they don't all need to agree on what it was."


What this means is that there must still be a unanimous guilty verdict, but the jurors do not have to be unanimous about what the actual offense was. There are three to choose from, and all 12 jurors don't have to agree, just so long as there are 12 votes overall. I'm told that's New York law in these cases.

Even with this correction, none of the underlying problems with the case against Trump have changed. There's still no crime that the prosecution has defined, there's still no magic math that lets two misdemeanors add up to a felony, and there's still no getting around Merchan allowing the prosecution to do almost anything while shackling Trump's defense.

Plus, let's just say that New York State law is deeply weird on this issue.

We apologize for the error, of course. But as I just said to our managing editor, Paula Bolyard, this is the screwiest trial since O.J. Simpson. Maybe Trump put it best today when he said, "Listening to the charges from the judge — who, as you know, is very conflicted and corrupt, because of the confliction, very, very corrupt — Mother Teresa could not beat these charges."

Which was the entire point all along, as I originally concluded.

The original, unedited column continues below.

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Legal scholar Jonathan Turley called it "the coup de grace instruction" from Judge Juan Merchan to the men and women of Donald Trump's NDA/Campaign Finance/Whatevs trial in New York City when he told jurors on Wednesday that they don't have to reach a unanimous guilty verdict to reach a unanimous guilty verdict.


Wait, wut?

Reporting live on X from the courtroom, Turley posted that Merchan instructed the jury "that there is no need to agree on what occurred. They can disagree on what the crime was among the three choices. Thus, this means that they could split 4-4-4 and he will still treat them as unanimous."

So if a majority of jurors find Trump "not guilty" on all three charges, but they managed to scrape up a combined 12 votes from each charge, Judge Merchan will assemble those into a single unanimous guilty vote — a Frankenverdict, if you will. 

Or if your tastes, like mine, run a bit darker...

Some readers might have to look up the Jame Gumb reference, but I won't judge.

My jaw really did (figuratively) drop to the floor at the news, but I was far from the only one. David "Iowahawk" Burge posted that "this kinda feels like some blow-up-in-your-face judicial Calvinball," and called Merchan's instructions "wishful thinking on the level of 'hey let's trap Godzilla with the high voltage lines.'"

SPOILER: Godzilla always busts right through the power lines, which seem to somehow give his atomic fire breath extra charge.

Then again, for a trial where not even the prosecution could point to exactly what the crime was, this latest absurdity is just one more nail in the coffin of American jurisprudence. 


So what if there are seven votes for a guilty verdict on one part, four on another, but only one on the third? That still adds up to 12, right? So Trump is guilty? And if the verdict comes back 6 + 6 + 6... 

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...18 has got to be 50% worse than the traditional unanimous vote of 12 jurors. That ought to give Judge Mercham the flexibility to raise Trump's maximum sentence from 134 years to 201 years. And the financial penalty would have to be something like eleventy jillion dollars.

I believe that a triple unanimous vote of 36 calls for a summary execution right there on the spot.

More seriously, Paul "King of Memes" Hookem warned, "If they can do this to Trump…just imagine what they will do to us. The war has long begun. Most just don’t know it."

He isn't exaggerating, either. Haven't we seen enough kangaroo court antics in various Jan. 6 trials already?

Even closer to the mark is my old Twitter/X acquaintance, Fusilli Spock:

From the prosecution's charges that amount to a chekist's promise to "show me the man and I'll show you the crime," to Merchan's ludicrous jury instructions, this is a case that will never survive appeal.


But I don't believe it was meant to.

Judge Merchan and the entire Democrat-Media Complex are jackhammering nails into America's coffin just to muddy the waters, to impugn Trump with an imaginary, illegal, unconstitutional felony conviction in plenty of time before Election Day.

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