Manafort’s Judge Under Federal Protection Following Death Threats

Manafort’s Judge Under Federal Protection Following Death Threats

Judge T.S. Ellis III revealed in open court Friday that he has received death threats

The judge presiding over the trial of President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort says he has received threats that have made him fear for the “peace and safety” of the jurors deciding Manafort’s fate.

Whilst explaining why he doesn’t intend to make jurors’ names public, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III expressed his concerns on August 17, revealing that he is now under federal protection.

U.S. courts usually reveal the names of jurors at the end of a trial.

“To do so would create a risk of harm to them,” the judge said.

“It’s important to keep their names confidential.”

“I’ve received criticism and threats,” he said, without elaborating.

“I imagine they would, too.”

Fox News reports: The startling revelation came as the jury completed its second day of deliberations without a verdict.

The jury will reconvene Monday. 

Ellis, a famously prickly judge known for his colorful comments, has attracted considerable attention during the Manafort trial for his frequent sparring with the attorneys — particularly those on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. 

Earlier Friday morning, Ellis acknowledged facing pushback about how he’s handled this case.

He told attorneys “I’m no stranger to criticism,” but said, “this case has brought it to a new level.”

The juror motion itself was filed by multiple news organizations – the Washington Post, New York Times, AP, CNN, NBC, Politico, and BuzzFeed.

They sought to unseal records in the case, including information about the jurors.

Rejecting the request about the jury, Ellis said: “to [grant it] would create a risk of harm to them.”

The judge also denied a motion to unseal all the bench conferences and sidebars, which have been sealed.

Ellis said all that will be released to the public at the end of the trial.

After a trial spanning nearly three weeks, Manafort, 69, is awaiting a verdict on 18 tax evasion and bank fraud charges.

He has been accused of hiding income earned from his Ukrainian political work from the IRS.

He’s also accused of fraudulently obtaining millions in bank loans.

“The Marshals go where I go.”

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Since the jury began deliberating Thursday, the defense has been expressing increasing confidence about its chances.

Kevin Downing, Manafort’s attorney, told reporters he sees the continued deliberations as “a great sign for the defense.”

He echoed those remarks after the jury sent Ellis a note Friday asking to end deliberations for the day because one juror has an event. 

On Thursday, Ellis read aloud another note detailing four questions from the jury, which covered foreign financial accounts, shelf companies, the definition of reasonable doubt and other evidence in the case.

In closing arguments this week, prosecutor Greg Andres told the jury, “The government asks you to return the only verdict that is consistent with the evidence, which is guilty on all charges.” 

It takes a unanimous guilty verdict from all 12 jurors to convict on each count.

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