Justice Merchan Denies Trump Request for Sanctions Against Prosecutors

Justice Merchan Denies Trump Request for Sanctions Against Prosecutors
(Left) Judge Juan M. Merchan poses in his chambers in New York on March 14, 2024. (Right) Former President Donald Trump arrives at 40 Wall Street after his court hearing in New York on March 25, 2024. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo; Charly Triballeau/via Getty Images)

A New York judge on Thursday denied former President Donald Trump’s request to sanction prosecutors over a last-minute evidence dump in a case charging him with 34 counts of falsifying business records.

President Trump’s attorneys have previously filed a motion for discovery sanctions and adjournment of trial after the prosecutors handed over 100,000 pages of documents just weeks before the trial.

The former president’s lawyers argued that the prosecutors were engaged in “widespread misconduct including the suppression of evidence to obstruct the Defendant’s efforts to obtain said evidence, to interfere in the 2024 Presidential Election, and the improper invoking of Federal law and Federal immunities and work product privileges.”

The defense had also requested to delay the trial for 90 days, after which the prosecution offered a 30-day delay for the defense to review the documents. The documents were provided by U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of New York.

A hearing was held on March 25 for the court to hear from both sides and assess “who, if anyone, is at fault for the late production of the documents,” whether it hurt either side, and whether any sanctions are warranted.

In a written ruling on May 23, New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan said he found that the prosecutors “did not violate their discovery obligations pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law.”

“Further, this Court found that the Defendant would not suffer any prejudice as a result of the document production at issue because the Defendant was given a reasonable amount of time to prepare and respond to the material,” he stated.

Justice Merchan said that the ruling was made after reviewing evidence submissions from both parties and hearing the arguments and clarifications made during the motion hearing on March 25.

Prosecutors’ Voluminous Documents

The 104,000 pages of documents the Trump team received were related to Michael Cohen, the key witness in the criminal case charging President Trump with falsifying business documents. They include interviews with Mr. Cohen and what the defense believes is exculpatory evidence.

Mr. Cohen, formerly a personal attorney to President Trump, claimed he was paid to kill a news story during then-candidate Trump’s 2016 campaign and to pay off an adult actress alleging an affair. The defense argues the only payments made to Mr. Cohen were attorney fees, and President Trump has denied all wrongdoing.

Mr. Cohen was previously convicted of tax crimes and pleaded guilty in a plea bargain during which he later publicly and repeatedly claimed he had lied. U.S. attorneys in the Southern District of New York had also detailed that Mr. Cohen was less than credible and repeatedly resisted giving full answers in an official report.

Attorneys for President Trump have argued that Mr. Cohen should be impeached as a witness and that the defense should be allowed to show evidence regarding Mr. Cohen’s admissions of lying under oath, which were made as recently as the fall of 2023 in the civil fraud trial against President Trump. During that trial, Mr. Cohen also acknowledged that his primary source of income was related to criticizing President Trump.

Catherine Yang contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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