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Editorial: Let all read the Trump transcripts: Justice Juan Merchan must order them published daily

New York Daily News Editorial Board, New York Daily News on

Published in Op Eds

Shortly after Acting Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan gaveled out the final day of jury selection for the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump on Friday afternoon, the New York County Criminal Court Electronic Document Delivery System sent an email notification of receipt at 5:22 to lawyer Jim Walden that his application had been received.

So that means that Merchan has before him this weekend the formal request of the civic group Common Cause New York and the news website New York Focus to please order that each day’s court transcript from the Trump trial commencing tomorrow be posted on the website of the state Office of Court Administration.

The papers filed by Walden and Deanna Paul from the firm of Walden Macht & Haran LLP make the same argument that regular readers have seen in these columns for a year: That the tremendous public import of this case demands full transparency and since New York is basically alone among the states in barring cameras and microphones from trial courts, the complete availability of transcripts is a requirement.

Note that we said “public import” rather than “public interest.” There is great public interest in Taylor Swift or how the Rangers and Knicks will fare in the playoffs, but America’s first ever criminal trial of a former president (and possible future president) is far more significant. It matters to the entire country and courtroom 1530 at 100 Centre St. only has space for a handful of spectators.

Trump says that he can’t get a fair trial, that Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg are out to get him. We disagree, but there are plenty of Trump fans who concur with his view, so let them see exactly what transpires in room 1530.

We also know that there are many Americans who don’t like Trump and want to closely follow what could be the only one of his four criminal trials to occur before the election. Again, let them see exactly what transpires in room 1530.

 

The Daily News has top-notch correspondents covering the action in the courtroom and outside, as do our competitors and colleagues from other news organizations, from print to web to broadcast. The reporting in these print pages and our website will be very valuable (the same for our competitors), but there should be more.

We have made the analogy before about the difference between reading a column or news story about a baseball game (at which Daily News sportswriters excel) and watching the whole game on TV or listening to it on the radio. Both the press reporting and the entire scope of the proceedings are needed together, be it on the ballfield or in the courtroom.

For each of the four days of jury selection last week, there were three government-employed court stenographers. Each has an annual salary above $130,000 and each got to pocket the proceeds from the sales of the transcripts to the court system for Merchan’s use, to Bragg’s lawyers, to Trump’s lawyers and to the assembled press, including The News. That’s a crazy system, but nonetheless, after the stenographers get paid, Merchan should publish the transcripts.

Lawyers Walden and Dean are doing this pro bono, Latin meaning “for the public good.” Public transcripts are a public good.

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©2024 New York Daily News. Visit at nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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