judge has chin on hands on bench in court

Judge Juan Merchan presides during the Trump Organization criminal tax trial in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on Nov. 15, 2022 in this sketch of the courtroom.REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

  • Donald Trump’s real estate company is on trial for tax fraud in Manhattan.

  • During a morning of heavy financial testimony, three jurors and an alternate closed their eyes.

  • The apparent drowsiness struck when a state tax investigator described CFO Allen Weisselberg’s audit.

The prosecution rested. So have some of the jurors.

Jurors in the Trump Organization’s ongoing tax fraud criminal trial struggled to stay awake during Monday morning’s busy financial testimony.

Three jurors and an alternate appeared to lose that fight briefly as the morning dragged on at New York Supreme Court in Manhattan. Their eyes closed and their heads nodded forward—or, in the case of a female juror, tilted back—at certain points in the testimony.

The trial of Donald Trump’s real estate and golf resort company was beginning its fifth week when the wave of drowsiness hit.

Prosecutors had called their final witness, a state tax investigator, to the stand to describe how he checked the company’s former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

The testimony began with a giant blowup of a blank upstate New York resident’s tax return — IT-201 — projected onto overhead screens.

Visual aid? Sleep aid? Hard to tell.

The witness, Mukaila Rabiu, began going through the blank tax form line by line, explaining each category. Things went downhill to the land of Nod from there.

The first to appear briefly was a juror in the back row, a porter for a Brooklyn-based property management firm. A court officer grabbed a large white jug and poured a glass of cold water, which was passed to the juror to sip.

The next visual aid on the overhead projector was a spreadsheet titled, in block capitals, “BREAKDOWN OF ADDITIONAL TAXABLE INCOME FOR TAX YEARS 2005-2017.”

He showed important evidence. In 2012, for example, Weisselberg, the lead witness in the trial, admitted to dodging $47,433 in income tax, the most of any year.

But this chart and glittering trades like this – Question: “Have you done the same analysis for every year in this chart?” Answer: “Yes”, – close your eyes to a few other people in the jury box.

A substitute teacher sitting in the front row had taken notes. Then his head fell forward, pen still in hand.

Three seats to his left, a retiree, who enjoys crocheting in her waking hours, has closed her eyes. Slowly, her head tilted back so that if she opened her eyes, she would be looking straight up at the ceiling.

“Let’s move on to utilities and garage payments,” said prosecutor, Solomon Shinerock.

Directly behind the retiree, the eyes of another juror, a department store janitor, began to blink, then shut. More glasses of water were handed out.

The seemingly dozing jurors closed their eyes for no more than a minute or two at a time, and many of them seemed to be making a great deal of effort to stay awake. At one point it seemed that the caretaker was pinching his face.

At the end of the tax auditor’s deposition, the prosecution also stopped.

Testimony is expected to run through the end of November, after which jurors will be asked to decide whether Trump’s company should be held accountable for a tax-evasion scheme that Weisselberg and the company’s top payroll executive admit to running for 15 years .

Trump is not a defendant in the case, but his company, if convicted of 15 tax conspiracies and files fraud charges, will face up to $1.6 million in fines.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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