Who will be in Trump’s jury pool? If you live in these 5 Florida counties, it could be you

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Former President Donald Trump, of Palm Beach, is set to face a jury of his South Florida peers in Fort Pierce later this year. If you’re a local registered voter and meet certain other criteria, you could be among them.

The first federal criminal trial of a former president, United States v. Donald Trump, is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 14-25 at the Alto Lee Adams Sr. U.S. Courthouse at U.S. 1 and Orange Avenue. However, Justice Department prosecutors filed a motion to postpone proceedings until December. The timing is up to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a 2020 Trump appointee who lives in Vero Beach.

The Fort Pierce courthouse falls within the Southern District of Florida, which also includes courthouses in Key West, Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Potential jurors will be randomly drawn from voter rolls in the district’s Fort Pierce Division: Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Highlands and Okeechobee counties.

The batch may be supplemented with additional sources, such as a list of licensed drivers, according to the federal Jury Act. The court is required to update its “master jury wheel” in odd-numbered years, after a November general election.

A Treasure Coast-area jury would be ideal for the 45th president, said Stuart criminal defense attorney Richard Kibbey, who has appeared in federal court in Florida, Hawaii, Arizona and South Carolina.

“It could not be a better forum for an acquittal. For the jury pool … you’re pulling from Highlands County and Okeechobee County, and those are absolute Trump territories, as well as much of the Treasure Coast,” Kibbey said. “I think that the decision to move the case to Fort Pierce was a huge strategic advantage for him.”

But is the line between the region’s past political support of Trump and a not-guilty verdict on dozens of federal criminal charges so direct? Hans Hassell, director of the Institute of Politics at Florida State University, offered this caveat:

“In high-information environments where people are all getting information from the same source, polarization is lessened, and so partisanship may not be as big of a factor compared to what it would be in a normal electoral environment.”

Did Fort Pierce Division electors vote for Trump?

The electorate in the five counties that make up the Fort Pierce Division leans conservative, a TCPalm analysis of Florida Division of Elections records shows. A plurality of voters were registered Republicans as of Oct. 11, 2022, the last day to register to vote before the November general election:

  • 43%: Republican

  • 30%: Democrat

  • 25%: No party affiliation

  • 2%: Minor party

Over 74% of the nearly 569,000 registered voters in the five-county region identify as white, followed by 11% Black and 10% Hispanic.

Trump, who’s running for a second term, won a 58% majority of the division’s popular vote in both 2016 and 2020. Even so, one of Trump’s major 2024 foes is also popular locally: Gov. Ron DeSantis.

A larger majority of the electorate in the five-county Fort Pierce Division helped reelect DeSantis in 2022 than voted for Trump in either 2016 or 2020, about 66%. While that’s not an indication the governor would receive as much enthusiasm in the presidential election, it’s possible that in sharing the primary stage with DeSantis, Trump must confront an evolving Treasure Coast-area political landscape.

Am I eligible for federal jury duty?

To qualify for federal jury service, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen

  • Be 18 years of age or older

  • Be proficient enough in English to complete the juror qualification form

  • Have resided primarily in the relevant judicial district for at least a year

  • Not have a disqualifying mental or physical condition

  • Not have been convicted of a felony — unless your civil rights have been restored

  • Not be subject to felony charges punishable by imprisonment for more than a year.

Whos exempt from serving on a federal jury?

  • Active-duty members of the armed forces

  • Members of professional fire and police departments

  • Public officers of federal, state or local governments.

Even if they wish to serve on a federal jury, people employed full time in the above categories are barred from doing so, per the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

When will jury summonses be mailed?

The public isn’t privy to this information, said clerk of court Angela Noble. If Cannon approves the continuance, jury selection would begin Dec. 11; potential “petit” jurors presumably would be notified at least several weeks before then.

If you receive a summons, you must mail back the enclosed questionnaire or fill it out online within 10 days. Once summoned, you become part of the jury pool but aren’t guaranteed a spot on the jury. Cannon and the attorneys will whittle down the pool in a process called voir dire.

Federal criminal trials must have 12 jurors and at least one alternate. Even if jury selection were as simple as choosing a dozen people from a bank of voters, those in the Fort Pierce Division would only have a 0.002% chance of being selected.

Why is Trump on trial?

On June 13, he pleaded not guilty to 37 criminal counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice and corruptly concealing a document or record. Trump had been indicted June 8 in relation to the recovery of over 300 classified documents he allegedly took upon leaving the White House.

Records seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence last year include those classified as confidential, secret and top secret, according to the indictment.

TCPalm crime, courts and legal affairs reporter Melissa Holsman contributed to this report.

Lindsey Leake is TCPalm’s projects reporter. She has an M.A. in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. in Journalism and Digital Storytelling from American University and a B.A. from Princeton University. Follow her on Twitter @NewsyLindsey, Facebook @LindseyMLeake and Instagram @newsylindsey. Call her at 772-529-5378 or email her at lindsey.leake@tcpalm.com.

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This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Donald Trump trial: Jury selection in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River