Trump's jurors hardly look at him. Trial experts say that's a good sign for everyone.

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  • Donald Trump's New York hush-money trial starts its second week of testimony on Tuesday.

  • Each day, jurors file back and forth past the most famous person on earth — without looking at him.

  • Veteran trial attorneys say that's actually a good sign for the justice system.

Reporters at Donald Trump's New York hush-money trial watch him continually.

They crane to glimpse the back of his head. A few aim little binoculars at the courtroom's overhead screens to better gauge his expressions — and his alertness.

But the 12 jurors and six alternates hardly look at Trump as they file back and forth past the defense table. At most, the eyes of one or two jurors may dart in Trump's direction as they enter and leave for breaks or for the day.

Trump, likewise, doesn't appear to pay his jurors much attention at all as they pass within six feet of him.

He'll stand, like everyone else, at a court officer's cry of "All rise! Jury entering." But he'll either whisper with his lawyers or scowl indistinctly into space as they pass by.

It seems remarkable. Trump is the most famous person on the planet, and the jurors hardly look at him, even from the jury box. Meanwhile, the jurors hold his potential criminal record in their hands, but Trump doesn't watch them much, either.

Business Insider described this strange-seeming, mutual coyness to veteran Manhattan trial attorneys. They didn't find it terribly strange at all.

In fact, they said this might be a sign that, at least where the jury was concerned, the wheels of justice were turning as they should.

"My guess is that they're not looking at him because everyone on the jury has heard of Donald Trump, and they understand that this is a case that is being given worldwide attention," Diana Florence, a former Manhattan financial-crimes prosecutor, said.

Florence and other attorneys suggested that the jurors didn't want to be seen as gawking at him.

"They've all taken an oath to judge the case solely on the evidence," Florence, who's now in private practice, said.

"So I think the fact that he is such a bold-faced name and they're not staring at him is probably a good sign for our jury system," she added.

Jeremy Saland, another former Manhattan prosecutor, agreed that "you especially don't want to look like a fan boy or fan girl" with a room full of reporters watching.

"As a juror, if you nod your head at Trump, you're in the papers," Saland said.

And if you nod at the prosecutors?

"You have Jesse Watters saying liberals have infiltrated the jury," Saland added.

Jurors did look at John Gotti Jr. and El Chapo

Jeffrey Lichtman has repped many mobsters and drug lords in his career. He wondered whether jurors were too intimidated to look at Trump.

"I had John Gotti Jr. and El Chapo, and it doesn't get any more intimidating than that," Lichtman said of two of his more famous clients.

"Jurors looked at both of them," he said. Gotti's federal racketeering charges were dropped after a third mistrial in 2006, and El Chapo was convicted of drug trafficking and conspiracy in 2019.

"But I think they looked at them as if they were animals in a zoo," Lichtman conceded.

Still, Lichtman and other trial-practice veterans said it wasn't uncommon for jurors to avoid looking at the defendant.

More potentially significant, they said, was that Trump was failing to look at his jury, at least not with anything approaching respect and appreciation.

"It's imperative that he stop with the 'Blue Steel' stare," Lichtman said.

"You want them to like you, and you don't want to intimidate them," he added.

"You think you're being inconvenienced by being there? So are the jurors. This is an inconvenience for them, too."

A close-up of Donald Trump in a courtroom.
Donald Trump in court for opening statements in his Manhattan hush-money trial.Yuki Iwamura-Pool/Getty Images

It's not enough for the defense lawyer Todd Blanche to say in opening statements that Trump is "a person, just like you and me"; Lichtman said they had to try to show the jurors this, not just tell them.

"It's very important that the jury see the defendant and the lawyers laughing and smiling together throughout the trial," Lichtman said.

"I was very clear on Gotti and El Chapo that I would go up to them during the summation and put my arm around them," he said.

"You touch them, you humanize them," he said.

"I don't think anyone wants to look at a guy's face who's scowling."

No 'resting scowl face'

Other lawyers told BI that Trump's defense team was doing him a disservice by not convincing him to look a little friendlier.

"They should be telling him that a 'resting scowl face' doesn't help him at all," said Saland, the former prosecutor, now in private practice.

The lawyers should also be "reeling him in outside the courtroom," Saland said.

Prosecutors have alleged Trump has violated his gag order at least 14 times in the past month by making statements targeting his jury and the witnesses Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels.

A hearing on Manhattan prosecutors' most recent contempt-of-court allegations is set for Thursday morning.

For each violation, Trump faces fines of up to $1,000 and, less likely, jail of up to 30 days.

A lawyer for Trump declined to comment for this story.

"They're letting him do his thing," Saland said of the defense team, noting that Trump had turned the trial into a stop on his campaign trail to rage against his political enemies.

"After all, it's a heck of a lot cheaper to run afoul of the gag order at $1,000 a pop," Saland said, "than to run a 30-second spot on national news."

Read the original article on Business Insider