Trump’s New York Gag Order Appeal Rejected

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
December 14, 2023Donald Trump
Trump’s New York Gag Order Appeal Rejected
Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the Hyatt Hotel in Coralville, Iowa, on Dec. 13, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On Dec. 14, a day after testimony ended for the case brought by the New York Attorney General against former President Donald Trump and his Trump Organization for fraud, an appellate court rejected the former president’s appeal of a gag order.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had issued the order on Oct. 3, the second day of the trial, prohibiting President Trump, and later his attorneys, from making statements about the judge’s staff.

President Trump’s attorneys had opened an article 78 proceeding accusing the judge of acting unlawfully, and asked for a writ of prohibition.

The appellate division panel denied the request largely based on improper procedure.

“To the extent there may have been appealable issues with respect to any of the procedures the court implemented in imposing the financial sanctions, the proper method of review would be to move to vacate the Contempt Orders, and then to take an appeal from the denial of those motions,” the order reads.

In a separate order issued the same day, the appellate division denied as moot the defense’s request to move this appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

“It is ordered that the motion for leave to appeal is denied; that branch of the motion for expedited resolution of the petition is denied as moot,” the clerk wrote.

It is unclear whether the defense will continue to appeal the gag order via the avenues outlined by the appellate court, as the trial is heading to a close.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Jan. 11, 2024.

Gag Order

President Trump has already been fined, and promptly paid, $15,000 for violating the gag order.

The gag order issued at the beginning of the trial suddenly became a topic of focus in recent weeks, as the defense pursued a mistrial motion and are expected to be preparing their post-trial appeal. Defense attorneys argued on the record that Justice Engoron and his principal law clerk had shown bias against the defense, treating the legal counsel differently than how they treated state attorneys trying the case.

The case centers around the Trump Organization statements of financial condition, which the judge already ruled, in a summary judgment a week before trial, contained fraud. It is a bench trial, as President Trump and Trump Organization executives are being tried under a statute that doesn’t call for a jury, and the attorney general is asking for penalties only a judge can award.

Despite the pretrial ruling, defense attorneys have sought to show no fraud occurred in courtroom testimonies. They have also pushed to exclude evidence and testimony that fall outside the statute of limitations as set by the appellate division, but the judge continued to allow them with the caveat that the state attorneys must somehow connect them to relevant claims within the statute of limitations.

State attorneys have repeatedly reminded the defense that there is no point in trying to introduce evidence or testimony to show there was no fraud, as the judge has already ruled there was fraud. Defense attorneys have told the media that they do not expect a favorable outcome from Justice Engoron.

Toward the end of the trial, defense attorneys argued in court filings that the gag order prevents them from stating on the record instances of what they believe is bias, based on the interactions and behaviors of the court clerk and Justice Engoron.

The appellate division had noted that the proper way to appeal the order would have been to file a motion, and then an appeal regarding those motions if denied. The defense’s attempts to seek “premature” review from a higher court would “undermine the statutory and constitutional regime governing the appellate process,” the order reads.

“Invoking this extraordinary remedy is only appropriate if there exists a substantial claim of an absence of jurisdiction or an act in excess of jurisdiction,” the order reads. The clerk added that the gag order itself had been narrow, and it appeared that the “gravity of potential harm” in not granting relief via the legal vehicles the defense chose to use was “small.”

The gag order and subsequent fines “are reviewable through the ordinary appellate process,” the clerk explained.

From The Epoch Times

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