NEW YORK (AP) — While some New Yorkers headed to the beach for Memorial Day weekend, a few set up camp outside the courthouse where Donald Trump’s criminal trial is set to resume next week, hoping to snag a seat inside the courtroom for the start of closing arguments.

Friday found a handful of people already in line for Tuesday’s court session.

They included professional line sitters with pup tents — and Richard Partington, 43, of East Hampton, New York, sitting on the hard pavement with a sleeping bag, pillow and blanket plus a journal to write in. He said he got in the line for the courtroom on Thursday.

“I think a lot of people didn’t even realize you could go inside the courtroom,” Partington said. “And now that the word has spread there’s just a lot more interest.”

Most of the seats inside the courtroom where Trump is on trial are reserved for lawyers, members of Trump’s entourage, security personnel and journalists. But a handful of seats are open to the general public. With news cameras banned from the trial, only people inside the courtroom or in a nearby overflow room with a video link have been able to watch.

In the early days of Trump’s hush money trial, getting one of those few seats for the public required an early start and some dedication. It has only gotten tougher since then. More would-be spectators are showing up as the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president nears its conclusion.

On the 16th day of the trial —May 13 — spectators Joe Adams and Ruth TeBrake told the AP they got seats in the overflow room by joining the line at 6:30 the night before.

“I’ve never done anything like this since I was young, since the ’60s,” said TeBrake, who hails from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. “There was electricity in the air.”

Adams, from Provincetown, Massachusetts, said they used the bathroom at a nearby bar during their overnight stay, tipping the bartenders $20 each for granting permission.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has been charged in a 34-count felony indictment with scheming to bury allegations of extramarital affairs that arose during his first White House campaign in 2016. He has pleaded not guilty and has denounced the proceeding as a politically motivated witch hunt.

Partington, a part-time teacher at a private school, said he’s been inside the trial courtroom four times and inside the overflow room another four times since testimony started on April 22.

“It’s such a learning experience,” he said. “Trump was president and he could be president again, so learning more about him is just interesting.”

Partington said he has not talked about the trial much with his friends or family — just his fellow trial watchers waiting to get into the courthouse.

“To be honest I mostly talk to people here who have been part of the experience because like they can relate to it, you know, what it’s like being in the courtroom and all these things,” he said

Trump’s trial is not the first Partington has attended. He also went to a few sessions of the trial for fallen cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried, which was held in a federal courthouse around a corner from the state court where Trump is on trial now. Partington said he found that, too, “very interesting.”

Impressions of the Trump trial so far?

Judge Juan Merchan “has done a really good job,” Partington said. “I think he’s kept a really, like, orderly courtroom.”

But he doesn’t blame Trump for appearing to possibly nod off at times.

‘I don’t know how he sustains any kind of energy throughout this whole thing,” Partington said, citing long days inside the courtroom and fluorescent lights that “just make you tired.”


Associated Press journalist Julie Walker contributed to this report.

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