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Report: Jack Smith wants to keep jury questionnaire secret in Trump records case

By Mandy Donalds
February 29, 2024

Special counsel Jack Smith seeks to keep the jury questionnaire confidential in the classified records proceedings against former President Donald Trump.

In a significant development, special counsel Jack Smith is advocating for the secrecy of a proposed jury questionnaire in the high-profile classified records lawsuit involving former President Donald Trump and two co-defendants. This move aligns with a judicial decision to limit defense lawyers' access to some sensitive documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, as reported by the Washington Examiner.

Concerns over jury impartiality in high-stakes trial

Smith's legal team expressed concerns to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, highlighting the potential for jury selection manipulation. They worry that if the questionnaire is made public before the trial, individuals with strong opinions about Trump could tailor their responses to either secure or avoid jury duty.

"Potential jurors may have strong views about Trump, his co-defendants, or the Government in this case," Smith's team argued. They believe that advance knowledge of the questionnaire could compromise the integrity of the jury selection process.

Jury questionnaires are a standard tool in legal proceedings, designed to identify biases or conflicts of interest among potential jurors.

Smith's team aims to submit their questionnaire by the end of February but faces opposition from Trump and his co-defendants, who are pushing for its public release.

The special counsel's office insists on the confidentiality of the questionnaire, especially in cases like this with significant pretrial publicity.

They argue that sealing the questionnaire until after jury selection is a common practice that aids in ensuring a fair and unbiased jury.

Judge's rulings influence case dynamics

On the legal front, Judge Cannon recently ruled against Trump's co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira, preventing their lawyers from reviewing certain classified and unclassified documents. These records were part of a sealed filing by prosecutors, highlighting the challenges of managing sensitive information in this case.

The rulings reflect the complexities of the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), which safeguards classified materials during legal proceedings. The act plays a crucial role in balancing transparency with national security concerns.

Despite Trump's attorneys' efforts, who have obtained security clearances, Judge Cannon was compelled by appellate court precedents to deny their request for access to specific materials.

This decision underscores the unique challenges of prosecuting a former president, particularly one involved in national security matters.

Legal battles and trial preparations underway

As the case progresses, the docket activity and upcoming court hearings continue to shape the legal landscape.

A key hearing is scheduled for Friday at the Miami federal court, where Judge Cannon will address additional scheduling and case-related issues.

The trial is tentatively set for May 20, though further delays are possible given Trump's ongoing efforts to dismiss the case.

His legal team has filed multiple motions, challenging the special counsel's appointment and asserting claims of presidential immunity and selective prosecution.

These legal maneuvers highlight the strategic battles being fought on multiple fronts, as both sides prepare for a potentially landmark trial.


  • Special counsel Jack Smith is advocating for the confidentiality of a jury questionnaire to prevent potential bias in the jury selection process.
  • Judge Aileen Cannon's rulings on access to sensitive documents underscore the complexities of handling classified information in legal proceedings.
  • The case's progression, including scheduling hearings and motions to dismiss, highlights the strategic legal battles being waged by both sides.
  • The outcome of this case could set important precedents for future high-profile trials, especially those involving national security concerns and former government officials.