The judge in Donald Trump’s civil fraud case dismissed his request for a mistrial on Friday, dismissing the former president’s lawyers’ arguments that the proceedings are tainted by political prejudice. Judge Arthur Engoron, according to Trump’s lawyers, injured Trump’s right to a fair trial by making “astonishing departures from ordinary standards of impartiality.”
They noted his decisions against Trump, the judge’s main law clerk’s significant involvement in court, the clerk’s political donations, and what the defense called Engoron’s “appearance of impropriety” in publishing items about the case in his high school alumni magazine.
Engoron concluded on Friday that the accusations were without merit.
“My principal law clerk does not make rulings or issue orders — I do,” Engoron wrote, adding: “I stand by each and every ruling, and they speak for themselves.”
As for the newsletter, “none of this has anything to do with, much less does it interfere with, my presiding fairly, impartially, and professionally over the instant dispute, which I have now been doing for more than three years, and which I intend to do until its conclusion,” he wrote.
According to Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, the judge “refused to take responsibility” for his “failure to preside over this case in an impartial and unbiased manner.”
“We, however, remain undeterred and will continue to fight for our clients’ right to a fair trial,” she said in a statement.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, House GOP Chair, blasted the judge in an ethics complain that was ultimately able to persuade an appeals court to lift the judge’s gag order.
“I write today to express my serious concerns about the inappropriate bias and judicial intemperance shown by Judge Arthur F. Engoron in New York’s lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization,” Stefanik said in the Nov. 10 letter.
“This judge’s bizarre behavior has no place in our judicial system, where Judge Engoron is not honoring the defendant’s rights to due process and a fair trial,” the letter continued.
Friday’s decision came a day after an appeals judge temporarily lifted a gag order imposed by Engoron on the parties and attorneys in the case to prevent comments about court staffers, particularly chief law clerk Allison Greenfield, who has come under scrutiny during the trial.
A message seeking response was received Friday to the office of state Attorney General Letitia James, who launched the civil action now on trial.
The complaint claims that Trump, his corporation, and top officials misrepresented his wealth by billions of dollars on his financial records, which were used to get loans and make transactions by banks, insurers, and others.
Engoron has already unilaterally determined that Trump and the other defendants committed fraud, but the trial will adjudicate additional accusations of conspiracy, insurance fraud, and fabricating corporate documents.
Judge Engoron makes the decision, not a jury. And despite constitutional guarantees of the right to a trial by jury in criminal trials, the “bizarre” judge has seized upon civil law authority to undermine Donald Trump’s presidential bid with dubious rulings and suspect orders that are tantamount to election interference.
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