Trump whines he can’t get a jury of his peers, but other felons are busy in prison | Opinion

As long as I can remember a verdict by a jury was something to be believed as the legitimate outcome of a judicial proceeding. Trump and his MAGA voters don’t see it that way as they rant about the liberal coastal elites in New York City who were out to get Trump, claiming he was denied a jury of his peers. But who better to sit in judgment of Trump than his fellow New Yorkers, who have seen him in the news for years.

Perhaps it all comes down to just who is a “peer.” Those MAGA voters in Kansas probably consider themselves his peer just because they hold the same political views. Indeed, Trump complained that only 5% of New Yorkers voted for him. But that has never been the objective of a trial in our justice system, to find someone who has already formed an opinion of the case without hearing any evidence.

Here’s how the Legal Information Institute at Cornell’s College of Law explains citizens’ constitutional right to be tried by their equals: It is an “impartial group of citizens from the legal jurisdiction where they live.” Note the emphasis on “impartial.” It’s the average citizen who comes to the court day after day with no preconceived notion of guilt or innocence and seldom knows the particulars of the case for which they are called. Obviously, in Trump’s trial, they would know something about the case although one juror said she didn’t know about Trump’s indictment until she was called for jury duty.

Let’s see who these jurors were who unanimously found Trump guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money to a porn star. Were they out to get Trump from the get-go?

One juror was from West Harlem, but originally from Ireland, and he sometimes watches Fox News and MSNBC. Another was an investment banker who follows Trump’s Truth Social posts and reads the Wall Street Journal. There was an Asian man who is a corporate lawyer originally from Oregon. A high school graduate who works as a security engineer. A young black woman who didn’t even know Trump was indicted until she was called for jury selection. She said she appreciates the fact that Trump “speaks his mind, and I’d rather that than someone who’s in office who you don’t know what they’re thinking.”

Who else was on the jury? A woman who was a software engineer. A man who was a civil litigator. A retired health manager who doesn’t keep up with the news that much. An unmarried woman who is a speech therapist with a master’s degree. A retailer who loves the outdoors. A woman who works for a multinational company. A woman who is a physical therapist with her doctorate.

Some of the jurors were well read, but others claimed they didn’t follow day-to-day news and the trials and tribulations of Donald Trump. Like most folks, they catch a bit of the news, but do not always get the specifics.

Does the description of any one of those jurors sound like Trump whose entire adult life and career is nothing but a con game that preys on anyone who he can overpower with borrowed money and swindling tactics? To find a jury of what Trump calls his peers in this narrow sense, you’d have to access the rolls of MAGA extremists or a list of what the criminal justice system politely calls “white collar criminals.” That means checking out the residents at our federal prisons where the feds provide housing and food for felons like Trump.

And while you’re visiting those federal prisons, seek out the insurrectionists who Trump inspired to attack our nation’s capital. Now those are folks Trump can count on in a jury trial. He’s already stated he will pardon them if he is elected in November. Of course, none of those felons — like him — can sit on juries

Now let’s poll the jury pool from which the Trump jurors were chosen to see if we can find who Trump would consider his real peers.

First, I’d like to call from the jury pool a man who dodged the draft thanks to a doctor pal of his dad’s.

Next, let’s call for someone who managed to get into Wharton School of Finance with daddy’s help and then lied about being first in his class when he didn’t even make the Dean’s list.

Does anyone in the jury pool have a history of four bankruptcies, one of which caused more than 400 employees at the Atlantic City casinos to lose millions in retirement savings?

Is there someone in the jury pool who has publicly bragged about being able to grab a woman’s genitals and get by with it? Or someone who would shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters. Please step forward.

Has anyone in the jury pool posed as a successful businessman but is nothing but a grifter who NBC hired to fire people on The Apprentice?

Could someone please step forward who told the New York police “don’t be too nice” during arrests. (On that one, the Police Commissioner had to respond and say that all police action must be reasonable and necessary and anything other is Irresponsible.)

So far, no hands have gone up. I know you’re getting frustrated at our misfortune in not finding a peer of The Donald, but perhaps there is someone in the pool who has been sued for racial discrimination in housing by the US Department of Justice in the 70’s. I guess not.

Has anyone taken out an ad in the New York papers calling for the death penalty for five black teenagers who were imprisoned for years, but finally released when DNA proved they were innocent? No takers on that one.

Could someone please step forward to serve on this jury who has been impeached twice by the Congress of the United States? Sorry, judge, no one in the pool meets that criterion.

Has anyone bilked students out of tuition he charged for his phony university and incurred a penalty payment of $25 million?

Has anyone in the jury pool had sex with a porn star, but then covered it up with hush money to hide it from voters in the 2016 election? Whoops, that’s the case in which he was just found guilty of 34 counts of business fraud.

It looks like Trump and his MAGA crowd may be right, but for the wrong reason. The jury that convicted Trump was not, by strict definition, a jury of his peers. If that were the case, the prosecution would have been searching for the grifters of New York City with a few insurrectionists thrown in for good measure. And Trump would skate free as he has so many times in his career.

Instead, the prosecution called 12 average citizens to jury duty for a trial that will go down in the American history books. This time, the justice system of the United States of America prevailed, and Trump is now a convicted felon running for president of the United States. There may be more to come, but the system worked in this case and it’s those 12 average citizens, if not peers, who got the job done.

Bob Kustra served as president of Boise State University from 2003 to 2018. He is host of Readers Corner on Boise State Public Radio, and he writes a biweekly column for the Idaho Statesman. He served two terms as Illinois lieutenant governor and 10 years as a state legislator.