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Dominion-Fox News live updates: Judge authorizes special master

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(NEW YORK) — Dominion Voting Systems, in a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit, has accused Fox News of knowingly pushing false conspiracy theories that the voting machine company rigged the 2020 presidential election in Joe Biden’s favor, in what Dominion claims was an effort to combat concerns over declining ratings and viewer retention. Fox has defended its coverage, dismissing the suit as a “political crusade in search of a financial windfall.”

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Apr 18, 1:34 PM EDT
Judge authorizes special master over potential ‘discovery issues’

After sanctioning Fox News last week for a delay in turning over evidence, Judge Eric Davis has now officially authorized a special master to investigate Fox News’ potential “discovery issues,” according to a new order from the judge.

The order comes just before opening arguments in the case are scheduled to begin.

According to the order, the investigation by the special master will “include a determination” of whether Fox News and Fox Corp “complied with their discovery obligations.”

The special master, who was previously appointed to oversee discovery in the case, is now “further authorized and empowered” to look into multiple declarations made by Fox attorneys in the case, the order says.

Apr 18, 11:40 AM EDT
You aren’t ‘Dick Tracy,’ judge tells jurors

In his initial instructions to the jury, Judge Eric Davis told jurors not to talk amongst themselves or discuss the case with family or friends.

“You have to fight human nature. This is the hardest thing you’ll have to do during the trial,” Davis said. “You have to refrain from talking about the case with your fellow jurors or a third party.”

The judge also reminded the jurors that they are not Dick Tracy.

“Do not do any detective work,” he said. “You cannot do any independent research about this case.”

Davis told jurors they can bring water or some other beverage into the courtroom, provided it has a cap or lid.

“You can bring some type of drink,” Davis said, jokingly adding, “non-alcoholic.”

The trial is expected to last about six weeks.

Apr 18, 11:30 AM EDT
Jury is seated

A jury has been seated to hear the defamation accusations against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems.

The jury is made up of six women and six men who were previously asked about their Fox News viewing habits. Six women and six men were also seated as alternates.

The jurors will remain anonymous for the duration of the trial. Judge Eric Davis had expressed concern about possible jury tampering amid the international attention on the case.

Immediately after the jurors were sworn in, alternate juror No. 3 raised his hand from his seat and told the judge, “Sir I can’t do this. I’ve been up all night. I can’t do this.”

Judge Davis offered to talk with the man off the bench and, ultimately, opted to dismiss him from service.

“I’ve excused alternate No. 3 and we will swear in a new No. 3,” Davis said.

Apr 18, 9:30 AM EDT
Jury selection underway

Jury selection is underway Tuesday morning at Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

The jury is expected to be seated by the end of the morning, with opening statements expected to begin shortly thereafter, according to the judge in the case.

Apr 17, 10:42 AM EDT
Judge says trial will proceed Tuesday

The judge overseeing Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News said Monday morning that the trial will proceed Tuesday, saying a delay like this “is not unusual.”

Judge Eric Davis’ remarks in court Monday morning came after an [eleventh-hour delay]} in the case was announced Sunday night before the trial was set to begin Monday morning.

The Wall Street Journal — a publication owned by Fox Chairman Rupert Murdoch — reported Sunday night that Fox had made a “late push to settle the dispute out of court,” according to “people familiar with the decision.”

Judge Davis made no mention of potential settlement talks Monday morning.

“It’s a six-week trial, things happen,” he said.

Apr 18, 9:30 AM EDT
Jury selection underway

Jury selection is underway Tuesday morning at Delaware Superior Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

The jury is expected to be seated by the end of the morning, with opening statements expected to begin shortly thereafter, according to the judge in the case.

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