Trump faces a Sandoval hearing in his New York hush money trial. Here’s what to know

Donald Trump will learn the scope of questions he could face from Manhattan prosecutors during cross-examination if he does choose to take the stand to testify in his first criminal trial

Joe Sommerlad
Friday 19 April 2024 14:11 BST
Related video: Trump appears in court for day three of New York hush money trial

Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial will resume on Friday morning with what is expected to be the final stages of jury selection, after 12 jurors and one alternate now sworn in to hear the historic case.

The Republican presidential candidate this week became the first former or sitting US president to stand trial on criminal charges after being accused of falsifying business records to conceal a payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election to stay quiet about an alleged affair.

Mr Trump has denied the affair and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

While the day’s proceedings involves jury selection to find five more alternates, the other important order of business today will be an evidentiary hearing colloquially known as a “Sandoval Notice”.

A Sandoval hearing is required under New York law in criminal cases in which the defendant has a history of misconduct or criminal acts and plans to testify.

The purpose of this portion of the trial is for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to show Judge Juan Merchan the scope of the questions they would propose to ask Mr Trump during cross-examination if he does choose to take the stand to testify. Mr Trump has already indicated that he plans to do so.

Speaking at a press conference from his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida last week, Mr Trump said: “Yeah, I would testify, absolutely. That’s not a trial. That’s a scam.”

From a defence point of view, a Sandoval hearing ensures that the criminal defendant is fully aware of what he might be asked if he or she does choose to take the stand in their defence, so that they are not caught off-guard by unexpected lines of questioning outside of an approved remit.

Earlier this week, a newly-released court filing from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg revealed a list of things that Mr Trump will be confronted with if he does testify, including “all misconduct and criminal acts of the defendant not charged in the indictment”.

Donald Trump pictured in court sketch during criminal trial (REUTERS)

Among these acts are previous lawsuits involving the former president, including the civil trial in which he was found liable for the sexual abuse and defamation of former Elle magazine columnist E Jean Carroll.

“Defendant sexually abused E Jean Carroll. Jury awarded the plaintiff $2,020,000 in compensatory and punitive damages on her sexual abuse claim,” the filing states.

Prosecutors said that Mr Trump’s civil fraud trial, in which he, his two eldest sons and their fellow Trump Organization executives were found liable for illegally inflating the value of company assets to obtain favourable terms from banks and insurers, will also be brought up if they are given the chance.

Like the hush money case, that lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James – the outcome of which Mr Trump is appealing – also involved allegations of falsifying business records or conspiracy to do so, meaning that the prosecution is likely to argue it is relevant to its current proceedings.

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