With less than a week to go before Donald Trump brings his personal brand of arbitrary plutocratic twittertarianism to the White House, it's become pretty clear that the next U.S. president is suffering from a chronic case of democratic impairment.
The guy we're about to entrust with the most important job in our democracy seems challenged by even the most basic duties of citizenship. We don't know if Trump pays his taxes, he repeatedly wiggled out of military service when his country came calling, and judging by his wandering eyes at the ballot box last November, it's not even clear if he knew how to vote until Melania showed him how.
But that's not all. Legal experts consulted by Fusion claim Trump is also hypothetically unfit to serve jury duty. And not because he's peerless in a good way.
According to some of the top jury consultants in the country, Trump's repeatedly expressed bias, racism, and misogyny would likely disqualify him from serving on most juries. Experts say judges would almost certainly dismiss Trump for cause from any criminal case involving Latinos, African-Americans or Muslims, as well as trials dealing with gender bias, sexual harassment, police misconduct, media defamation, contract disputes, or L.L. Bean zipper malfunctions.
The vitriol in Trump's Twitter account alone is probably enough to give most judges pause. But combined with his penchant for ignoring facts and dismissing uncomfortable information as FAKE NEWS, Trump has all the makings of a toxic juror, analysts say.
"If I sat and thought long enough, there could potentially be a case where [Trump] might be unbiased enough on a particular issue to serve on a jury, but as I sit here I can't think of any off the top of my head," says nationally renowned jury selection expert Robert Eglet. "I would have to think about that for a long while."
Even in cases where Trump wasn't necessarily tripping over his own prejudices, his bombastic temperament and weird cult of personality would probably convince most attorneys to dismiss him from the jury on a peremptory challenge, consultants say. A peremptory challenge is when a lawyer strikes a juror without giving a reason.
"In any case, on any side, in any dispute, whether I was plaintiff or defense, I would strike [Trump] based on what he has said and how he says it. He's a total loose cannon," says Tara Trask, former president of the American Society of Trial Consultants. "It speaks volumes that even on the most pedestrian level of our government, he is unfit. It's a joke."
Eglet agrees. "I can't imagine anyone leaving him on any jury. Ever," says the 2014 U.S. trial lawyer of the year and a self-described progressive Democrat. "But take that with my personal bias, which is shared by more than half the country. I think he's completely unfit to hold any elected office in our country."
It raises a strange question: Do we hold jurors to higher standards of fairness, impartiality, competency, and honesty than we do the President of the United States? And if so, would we have been better off randomly selecting a president from a list of eligible citizens?
While comparing the qualifications of a juror to the president is a bit of an apples and oranges equation, it is mildly alarming that several top jury experts think we've elected a president who doesn't meet the minimum sniff test for rationality, fairness, or equanimity. Granted presidents have a different set of roles and responsibilities than a juror does, but you'd like to think that the guy with the launch codes can be trusted to make informed and rational decisions.
"Is the bar higher for jury service than the presidency? Yeah, in this case it appears to be that way," said one jury consultant who wished to remain nameless.
Still, not all legal experts think Trump would be summarily dismissed from jury duty.
Jeffrey Frederick, director of Jury Research for the National Legal Research Group, says Trump might make it through in some cases because "we do not have a personality test for jury duty" and "there is no minimum intelligence requirement."
"The jury system doesn't discriminate against people who have personality disorders," Frederick told me, adding that he's not saying Trump fits into that category. "It's only when those disorders get in the way of you being able to discharge your duty then it becomes a tripping point."
Are there any instances when a lawyer might actually want Trump on the jury?
"In a David vs. Goliath case, where Goliath is a big corporation, I would take Trump in defense of Goliath," a top west coast trial consultant told me, under condition of anonymity.