UPDATE, 1:34 PM: The domestic violence trial of Jonathan Majors has a jury.
After several hours today and yesterday whittling the initial pool of 39 down in the Manhattan criminal court room, six jurors and two alternates have just been selected. Three men and three women will assess the misdemeanor assault and harassment charges against the Creed III actor..
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The alternates are one man and one woman.
The trial will not start tomorrow.
Instead Majors, the lawyers, Judge Michael Gaffey and the jurors all back at 10 am ET on December 4 for opening statements The trial is expected to last two weeks.
If found guilty, Majors could face up to a year behind bars for the March 25 incident against ex-girlfriend Grace Jabbari.
While the jury and perhaps Majors will not be in court Friday, Judge Gaffey, prosecutors and the defense team will be. “So what we’ll do is we’ll come in tomorrow morning” at 10:30, the judge told the attorneys this afternoon. “Any applications that both sides want to make, make tomorrow,” he stated, promising to rule on those Monday “and we’ll deal with any other issues” on Friday.
PREVIOUSLY, 10:48 AM: To paraphrase former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, some significant “known unknowns” emerged today in Jonathan Majors’ domestic violence trial.
As jury selection continued Thursday in a Manhattan courtroom, the judge in the Loki actor’s misdemeanor criminal trial for assault and harassment is bringing some matters out into the light of day and keeping others far from public eyes.
Kicking off the second day of Majors’ repeatedly delayed trial, Judge Michael Gaffey ruled on Thursday morning that the jury will get to hear that his accuser, Grace Jabbari, was arrested over the same incident.
In short order, Judge Gaffey also issued a separate ruling about evidence in the case that was under seal, and he sealed the ruling tight. Dealt a blow, the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg merely confirmed today it “is a sealed decision.” Sources have told Deadline that the sealed documents at issue contain information on potential past incidents involving the actor both in the U.S. and the UK. Entering a plea of “not guilty” months ago over the March incident, Majors faces up to a year behind bars if convicted.
Having seen the move by various media organization to unseal what the judge termed “prejudicial and inflammatory” evidence defeated, Majors’ usually very vocal primary lawyer Priya Chaudhry had nothing to say on the matter when the court broke for lunch just a short time ago. Worth noting that Chaudhry and co-counsel Seth Zuckerman were smiling at the defense table when the judge made his decisions about what to make public and what to keep sealed.
At around 10 am ET Thursday, the judge booted spectators out of the 100 Centre Street courtroom for a second straight day. When Gaffrey re-opened the courtroom to the press and public about a half-hour later, he declared the issue at the heart of two closed-door hearings this week “resolved,” and, as jury selection from a pool of around 40 people finally began, promised there would be no more lockouts of the public.
Present as he was yesterday, Majors, before the break, was facing the jurors, leg crossed, taking notes and watching them as they individually answer questions from the questionnaire. As was the case yesterday, Majors had a Bible on the defense table before him. Earlier, when Judge Gaffey introduced Majors to the jury pool, the actor stood up to face them, clasped his hands near his heart, and gave a short bow in their direction.
Majors returned to the courtroom today wearing a wide-brimmed fedora hat over a black buttoned coat and a dark double-breasted suit. His girlfriend, Harlem actress Meagan Good, accompanied him, and held his hand as they briefly stepped back out of the courtroom with Majors’ two lawyers and a man carrying his coat and hat.
While ex-girlfriend Jabbari is a scheduled witness for the DA’s office, it is unclear if Majors will take the stand in his own defense. Almost from the day their client was arrested by the NYPD in late March after answering a 911 call and coming to the scene of a noticeably roughed up Jabbari, Majors’ lawyers have tried to flip the script and make the British national the perpetrator in this case. Despite Chaudhry filing a countersuit against Jabbari in June – which led to the police automatically issuing an investigatory card, or I-Card, for her – the DA’s office has said over and over it would not act on claims that Majors’ ex-girlfriend was the antagonist in the March 25 incident.
Already cooperating with prosecutors, Jabbari turned herself in late on October 25 at the NYPD’s 10th precinct in Manhattan. Within hours, the DA’s office put out a statement saying it “has officially declined to prosecute the case against Grace Jabbari because it lacks prosecutorial merit.”
Still today, Judge Gaffrey said the jury will learn about Jabbari’s arrest last month. “This is a situation where I think it is information that should be put before a jury,” he told the assembled lawyers, media and Majors today. “The jury should hear about it.” At the same time, Jabbari will be allowed to testify, as the prosecutors have asserted, that “she knew nothing about this warrant for arrest,” and that “she came and surrendered immediately,” when she found out she was wanted.
The judge stated that prosecutors can cross-examine the NYPD detective who recommended Jabbari’s arrest: “I’m going give The People full, fair opportunity to cross-examine the detective and his motives,” he noted.
Once chosen, either today or tomorrow, six jurors and one alternate will hear the case. Though at this rate, it is unlikely much will be happening in the matter until next week.
The scheduled first day of the trial was spent almost entirely on pre-trial wrangling over what information to make public – with the ruling issued today capping that element of this matter off. Judge Gaffey closed the courtroom to spectators on Wednesday afternoon to let the defense argue behind closed doors that evidence already under seal should be kept out of the case record entirely – arguments that clearly were persuasive.
The Manhattan DA’s Office had been trying to introduce potential past incidents under a legal standard in New York known as the Molineux rule that sometimes allows past, uncharged allegations of criminal behavior into a new trial. Molineux figured prominently in the prosecution of Harvey Weinstein for rape.
NYPD officers who responded to the scene on March 25 after Majors himself called 911 found Jabbari, with bruising, swelling, lacerations and a broken finger. Majors was arrested and released after a hearing, and he remains under a protective order to avoid contact with Jabbari. After claims by Majors’ defense lawyers of institutional racism among law enforcement fell flat, the actor filed his cross-complaint claiming that in fact Jabbari initiated the violence. Majors postulated that Jabari became enraged that another woman was texting him as they rode in a car through Lower Manhattan that spring night.
Citing text messages between the couple and security-camera footage related to the incident, defense lawyer Chaudhry has described her client as the victim of escalating domestic violence by a controlling and abusive partner. Chaudhry also called her client the target of a “witch hunt.”
Chaudhry previously represented Jen Shah of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City in a federal wire fraud case, and defended writer-director Paul Haggis in a civil rape case brought under New York’s recently expired Victims of Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Act.
Chaudhry said in court on Wednesday that she gathered evidence proving Majors to be the victim in this case, but the DA refused to consider it despite police having called for Jabbari’s arrest. In another stand-off among many in this matter, lead prosecutor Kelli Galaway countered that her office did review the information submitted by Chaudhry.
After his arrest in March, Majors was dropped by both management company Entertainment 360 and publicist The Lede Company in April. Even though the Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania actor did appear in Season 2 of Disney+’s Loki as the villain Kang, various ad campaigns featuring the WME-repped Majors, such as one for the Texas Rangers MLB team, were ended in the aftermath of his arrest. As numerous roles dried up for Majors, the likelihood for an Oscar campaign from Searchlight Pictures for his acclaimed performance in the Sundance debuting Magazine Dreams looked more and more DOA, a presumption that was silently confirmed on October 27 when Deadline reported that the film had lost its December 8 release date and had not been rescheduled by the Disney-owned Searchlight.
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