Trump Files Motion for Mistrial in New York Fraud Case

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
November 15, 20232024 Elections

Former President Trump’s legal team requested a mistrial in his New York fraud case, saying the judge in the case and his law clerk exhibited bias against the former president.

The motion, filed Wednesday, alleges that Judge Arthur Engoron and his chief law clerk engaged in the “appearance of bias [that] threatens both Defendants’ rights and the integrity of the judiciary as an institution.”

The request for a mistrial will be decided by Judge Engoron, who has suggested in court that he would deny the motion, telling the former president’s attorney that he shouldn’t file it. Later, the judge said his attorneys should file it in writing.

“In this case the evidence of apparent and actual bias is tangible and overwhelming. Such evidence, coupled with an unprecedented departure from standard judicial procedure, has tainted these proceedings and a mistrial is warranted,” the Trump lawyers wrote in their motion.

It then cited a New York code stipulating that “a judge shall not make any public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court within the United States or its territories.”

Regarding Judge Engoron’s law clerk, President Trump’s attorneys say that she made “partisan political contributions in excess of strict limits” to groups that oppose President Trump and supported Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who has brought the fraud case against the former president. The clerk’s “unprecedented role in the trial and extensive, public partisan activities, would cause even a casual observer to question the court’s partiality. Thus, only the grant of a mistrial can salvage what is left of the rule of law,” it said.

Previously, the former president has criticized both the judge and the clerk in the case on social media, prompting Judge Engoron to issue a gag order that bars him from speaking about his staff.

“The Principal Law Clerk is given unprecedented and inappropriate latitude,” the former president’s attorneys wrote. “Indeed, before the Court rules on most issues, the Court either pauses to consult with her on the bench or receives from her contemporaneous written notes. While a Justice of the Court no doubt has ample discretion to consult with his or her Law Secretaries, this unprecedented arrangement exceeds the outer limits of such discretion.”

They also wrote that Judge Engoron himself has shared “disparaging” stories in his alma mater’s newsletter, where he serves as an editor. The newsletter drew headlines earlier this month when several prominent conservative social media users posted photos to the newsletter that appear to show Judge Engoron shirtless while working out; the judge hasn’t commented on those images.

“This Court, in his capacity as a Wheatley School alumnus, has publicly posted links in the Wheatley newsletter he maintains to articles disparaging parties and counsel,” the Trump lawyers wrote in their motion.

Earlier this month, the judge defended his communications with his clerk by saying he has an “absolute unfettered right” to speak to her about a range of legal issues. “There is no First Amendment value to talking about her,” he said, referring to the gag order.

AG Responds

A spokesperson for Ms. James’ office on Wednesday criticized the former president’s attempt to have the judge declare a mistrial. The judge hasn’t commented on or issued a ruling on the motion.

“Once again, Donald Trump is trying to dismiss the truth and the facts, but the numbers and evidence don’t lie,” a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said in a statement to news outlets.

NTD Photo
(Left) Former President Donald Trump on Oct. 28, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times); (Right) New York Attorney General Letitia James on Nov. 8, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The statement added that he is “being held accountable for the years of fraud he committed and the incredible ways he lied to enrich himself and his family. He can keep trying to distract from his fraud, but the truth always comes out.”

The case was brought by Ms. James’ office against President Trump, sons Eric and Donald Jr., and the Trump Organization, claiming the defendants defrauded insurance companies and banks by over- or under-inflating the value of their assets. All have denied wrongdoing.

Their trial is expected to run until mid-December. Judge Engoron, meanwhile, has already ruled that he believes the former president’s company defrauded banks and investors, and ordered that some of his business licenses be dissolved in New York state as punishment, although an appeals court has held up that ruling.

It comes as the defendants in the case mounted their defense in court this week, with Donald Trump Jr. testifying as a character witness for his father’s company. The Trumps’ lawyers have argued that prosecutors have not met “any legal standard” to prove any allegations in the trial, including falsifying business records, insurance fraud, and conspiracy.

“He’s an artist with real estate. He sees the things other people don’t,” Trump Jr. said in court this week in defense of his father’s real estate empire.

From The Epoch Times

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