Donald John Trump is not your every-day criminal defendant, given that for four years he occupied the presidency of the United States.
Therefore, it is imperative that the federal judiciary do something far out of the ordinary. It needs to televise the federal trials that will determine whether Donald Trump is guilty of the crimes for which he is being charged.
Trump has four trials pending. Two of them are in state courts. New York and Georgia grand juries have indicted him for committing crimes against the nation he once took an oath to protect.
I want to focus on the two federal indictments. One of them came from a grand jury in Florida; that’s the classified documents case in which Trump pilfered documents from the White House and stashed ’em in his glitzy estate. The other came from a D.C. grand jury; that is the matter involving the 1/6 assault on our government.
You see, this is critical inasmuch as Trump was once elected to the presidency. He took an oath to protect the government against all enemies. Then he shunned that oath when the 2020 election didn’t turn out the way he wanted; he lost that contest to Joe Biden.
Americans who were governed by this fraud have a right to witness how these trials play out. Will they produce sideshows, melodrama and game-playing? Yes, they might … but that isn’t necessarily pre-ordained.
I recall meeting with Tom Phillips, who in the 1990s was chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court. The OJ Simpson trial was underway and Phillips said that the judge in that trial, California Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, had plenty of authority to rein in the lawyers. He could have set time limits on the presentations. He could have demanded decorum and dignity in the courtroom.
Phillips said trial judges have immense power to run these trials in orderly and concise fashions.
It’s that knowledge that gives me hope that if the federal judiciary turns on the TV cameras in the courtroom that they will expose the public to a ringside view of how one of our three branches of government does the job prescribed in the US Constitution.