Jury selection for the trial against Young Thug and his associates may show how difficult the process will be for Donald Trump’s case.
Evan Agostini/Invision and Robert F. Bukaty/AP
Fulton County has spent eight months picking jurors for the trial of Young Thug and his associates.Many potential jurors have said they could face financial hardship by participating in a long trial.The county could face similar hurdles in the election interference case, a former prosecutor says.
Two major racketeering cases are unfolding in Fulton County, Georgia.
One involves the prolific Atlanta rapper Young Thug and his associates, who prosecutors allege are all part of a “criminal street gang” called Young Slime Life or YSL. Defendants, including Young Thug, whose real name is Jeffery Williams, have maintained that YSL is just an artist label.
The other involves a former US president and 2024 GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump, and 18 co-defendants. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has accused Trump of being a part of a conspiracy to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.
The cases look at two very different sets of players and worlds, one which concerns allegations of murder, drug deals, and other crimes, while the other examines the proceedings of an election and accusations that a former president and his associates attempted to interfere with that process.
“They’re so different,” Melissa Redmon, clinical assistant professor at the University of Georgia School of Law and a former deputy district attorney for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, told Insider. “And they’re difficult for different reasons.”
But prosecutors may still see similar hurdles in the election case as they have already confronted in the YSL trial — namely the jury selection process.
In the past eight months, the Fulton County courthouse has been slogging through more than 2,000 potential jurors for the Young Thug trial. And, according to local news station WANF, not a single juror has been selected as of the beginning of August.
Many potential jurors have sought hardship deferrals because they claimed they could not afford to sit in on a trial that will go into the next year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
“It’s very uncommon to have to sift through that many jurors,” Redmon said. “Typically you would have 45 jurors in your typical case to select from highly sensitive matters like sex crimes. In cases that may go a little longer, you may get up to 60 or 70.”
Any time there’s a case that may last more than several weeks, courts can expect to face jurors who cite some form of hardship that wouldn’t allow them to hear a long case, and this is likely true for courts anywhere in the US, Redmon added.
The election interference case will also likely see jurors who seek hardship deferrals.
There are 41 charges for a total of 19 defendants, and because the district attorney has brought RICO charges, the trial will be lengthy, Redmon said.
A RICO case often involves presenting information that may not be immediately relevant to a particular defendant on trial but relevant to “establishing the overt acts of the conspiracy,” which means more witnesses and, thus, a longer trial, the professor said.
The Trump case is also politically sensitive.
The judge and lawyers will have to ask potential jurors if they can hear a case impartially despite their personal beliefs or political leanings.
For the trial against Young Thug, one woman was asked if she was familiar with the rapper, The New York Times reported. The woman said she knew Young Thug and would make sitting in on the case “surreal” but that she would be fair, according to the report.
Similarly, jurors will be questioned about their political beliefs and if they will be able to put that aside in the Trump case.
This doesn’t mean that lawyers can object to a juror just because they are a registered Democrat or Republican, Redmon said. In that case, a court wouldn’t have any viable jurors.
“There has to be a prejudice or bias that’s so fixed that it would impact their ability to judge the credibility of the witnesses and the credibility of the evidence being presented to them,” she said.