Appeals Court Accepts Trump Gag Order Appeal but Won’t Delay Trial

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
April 9, 2024Judiciary
Former President Donald Trump's hush-money trial is set to begin with jury selection next Monday, despite attempts to delay it. In the latest attempt on Tuesday, a judge denied President Trump's challenge to the gag order.

New York Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Kern on April 9 rejected a motion from attorneys for former President Donald Trump to hold off on a trial until he had a chance to appeal a gag order.

“This application for an interim stay of the proceedings pending resolution of the Article 78 proceeding is denied without prejudice to any determination by the full bench,” the judge ruled, ordering briefs to be submitted by April 15, the start of the trial. An Article 78 proceeding is a lawsuit to challenge a judge’s action.

The ruling came a day after New York Supreme Court Justice Lizbeth González rejected a separate request to hold off on a trial while the defense sought a change of venue.

“The First Amendment harms arising from this gag order right now are irreparable,” defense attorney Emil Bove argued.

President Trump is being prosecuted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on 34 counts of falsifying business records, related to an alleged payment scheme to kill negative news stories during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

On March 26, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan issued a gag order prohibiting President Trump from making statements about several groups of people related to the case, including high-profile witnesses like Michael Cohen, a frequent and vocal critic of President Trump. The judge later expanded the gag order to cover his and the district attorney’s family members after President Trump resurfaced arguments that the judge’s daughter heads a marketing firm that boasts as clients anti-Trump politicians who have fundraised with messaging about this case.

The parties argued on the gag order during an emergency April 9 hearing, and while the appellate division denied delaying the April 15 trial, it will hear an appeal of the gag order.

Steven Wu, arguing for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, objected to a stay and to vacating the gag order.

“This is not political debate. These are insults,” he said, adding that the timing of the appeal was also “delayed.”

Mr. Wu argued that a gag order was necessary because the prosecutors have had “difficulty finding witnesses in our case” and that prospective witnesses are reluctant because people “know what their names in the press may lead to.”

Gag Order

After Justice Merchan expanded the gag order on April 1, President Trump called on social media for the judge to step down from the case.

“They can talk about me but I can’t talk about them???” he wrote on Truth Social. “That sounds fair, doesn’t it? This Judge should be recused, and the case should be thrown out.”

The expanded order came after President Trump made comments about the judge and his daughter having a political interest in the case, and her marketing work has become the focus of several recent court filings.

Last week, the defense filed a motion requesting the judge’s recusal. Last August, the judge declined to step down, ruling that he could preside over the case without bias and that the defense had only presented hypothetical scenarios of conflict based on his small-dollar Democrat donations and his daughter’s work.

The defense is now arguing that the situation is no longer hypothetical, as Federal Election Commission filings show that groups paying Loren Merchan’s firm millions have been fundraising on messages about President Trump’s indictment and upcoming trial. They argued the judge now has a commercial interest in the case while prosecutors argued this did not show a conflict.

The defense has sued the judge over this gag order in the appellate division, arguing that President Trump should be allowed to comment on high-profile witnesses who are still making statements about him; to comment on the judge and the motion to recuse, which includes the judge’s daughter’s work; and to claim the case is politically motivated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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