NEW YORK — The actor Jonathan Majors appeared in court in New York on Wednesday for the expected start of jury selection in a trial in which he is accused of injuring his then-girlfriend during an argument last spring.
The trial could wind up playing a big role in what happens next with Majors, who had emerged as a breakout star with major roles in films including “ Creed III ” and who was being set up as the next great supervillain in the Marvel multiverse.
The 34-year-old actor entered a Manhattan courtroom alongside his current girlfriend, the actress Meagan Good, carrying a Bible and one of his signature coffee cups. He did not speak during the start of the proceeding.
Majors was arrested in March over a confrontation between the actor and Grace Jabbari, his girlfriend at the time, during a car ride in Manhattan.
Prosecutors said Jabbari had grabbed a phone out of the actor's hand after seeing a text, presumably from another woman, saying “Wish I was kissing you right now.” Majors tried to snatch the phone back.
Jabbari said the actor pulled her finger, twisted her arm behind her back and hit her face. After the couple's driver stopped the car and the pair got out, Jabbari said Majors threw her back into the vehicle. Police said Jabbari was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.
Majors’ attorneys have maintained that Jabbari was the aggressor during the fight and had scratched and hit him. They alleged on Wednesday that police who responded to the scene did not interview Majors and that Manhattan prosecutors have refused to review evidence showing he was the victim.
Jabbari was also briefly arrested by New York City police last month after Majors filed a cross complaint against her, but the district attorney’s office dropped all charges against her the next day.
On Wednesday, the judge, Michael Gaffey, described the brief arrest of Jabbari as “very unusual,” suggesting that Majors’ celebrity status may have played a role in the police department’s decision to charge his accuser three months after the incident.
“Did this only come about because of the high profile nature of the case?” Gaffey asked the court. “If this was an indigent, everyday New Yorker, would this arrest have happened?”
Majors is charged with misdemeanors including assault and could be sentenced to up to a year in jail if convicted.
Before jury selection could begin Wednesday, attorneys for Majors successfully sought to bar the public and press from the courtroom in order to discuss evidence in the case that has not been made public. The attorney, Seth Zuckerman, warned the evidence could “taint the jury pool beyond repair for Mr. Majors,” adding that his client may face “trial by newspaper.”
Gaffey agreed, finding that the evidence was likely to be “inflammatory” and could taint a jury pool if it were reported in the media.
The Manhattan District Attorney did not take a position on the matter. An attorney hired to represent the press, Katherine Bolger, opposed the move to seal evidence, noting that the public had a right to know the evidence in the case.
Majors starred in the Marvel TV series “Loki" and the film “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania,” and was awaiting the release of another star vehicle, “Magazine Dreams,” which is now in limbo.
He is known for carrying a coffee cup on the red carpet and to media interviews, one of four he rotates through, as a symbol of his mother’s long-ago advice: “Don’t let anyone fill up your cup.”
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