A lawsuit brought by disgruntled “graduates” of the now-defunct Trump University will go to trial Nov. 28, where President-elect Donald Trump will take the stand in his own defense.
Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the federal district judge Trump lambasted for alleged bias during this year’s heated presidential campaign, will preside.
If the case in fact goes forward, the court will have to impanel an impartial jury, which could be an impossible task. Trump is one of the most divisive political figures in living memory. Finding individuals who haven’t formed a definitive opinion about him in therefore an unlikely proposition. In addition, details surrounding the litigation saturated press coverage of the election for weeks during the spring and summer.
What’s more, Curiel must also decide whether lawyers for the plaintiffs can use statements Trump has made about the case and about his own personal conduct against him during the trial. Taken together, assembling an unbiased jury with little advanced knowledge of the case will be a tall order for lawyers on both sides. (RELATED: It’s Not Just Garland – 50 Other Obama Judicial Nominees Lost Tuesday Too)
“This is a jury consultant’s nightmare to pick in a case like this,” Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School told Reuters. “It will be taught in jury consulting school.”
Trump will not be required to appear in court throughout the trial. He has also already given two depositions related to the case, which have not been released to the public.
Though the doctrine of sovereign immunity shields the president from civil claims, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 1997 that the president does not enjoy immunity in civil cases arising from events which transpired prior to his taking office.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman brought a separate class action lawsuit against Trump University, which claims students were enticed into paying tens of thousands of dollars to participate in so-called real estate seminars heavy on hype and light on substance.
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