On Monday, June 17, 2024, USA TODAY reported that claims made on social media that Justice Juan Merchan was fired after secretly leaking the verdict in Donald Trump’s criminal trial were false.

A viral video posted on Instagram and TikTok on June 8 stated that Merchan, the judge who presided over Trump’s New York hush money case, had been terminated from his position for allegedly allowing the jury’s decision to be disclosed before it was officially announced. However, USA TODAY found no evidence to support this statement after investigating the accuracy of the claims.

Merchan has continued presiding over other cases in his role as an acting New York Supreme Court justice since 2009. He remains listed on the state court system’s directory and is scheduled to sentence Trump on felony charges in July. No documentation could be found of any disciplinary actions or removal procedures initiated against Merchan by the Commission on Judicial Conduct or state legislature, which are the established processes to fire a judge.

The rumor appears to have originated from a since-deleted Facebook comment by a user who said his cousin was on the Trump trial jury and knew the outcome in advance. However, several news outlets reported that the same individual later admitted his claim was fabricated as a prank. No credible reports emerged that the verdict was improperly disclosed to outsiders ahead of time. Experts assessed the initial Facebook post as more of an attention-seeking guess than a true inside leak.

USA TODAY’s fact check concluded the allegations against Merchan were false and misleadingly portrayed in a letter he sent to lawyers about the Facebook post. The article traced the spread of misinformation and provided contextual details and expert analysis rebutting the unsupported accusations.

While Trump’s case has generated past misinformation, thorough investigation found no evidence to substantiate claims that the presiding judge in this widely publicized trial was dismissed from his position. As such, social media users should approach such inflammatory statements with skepticism until proven true.