Former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants had their request for a mistrial denied by a New York judge on Friday. Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron dismissed their arguments, stating that they were completely without merit. He also refused to sign their motion to dismiss the case. This decision comes after the defense lawyers claimed that political bias had undermined the case. They accused Judge Engoron and his principal law clerk of tainting the proceedings and argued that only a mistrial could save the integrity of the rule of law.
However, Engoron, in his ruling on Friday, refuted each accusation of bias and made it clear that he plans to oversee the case until it reaches its conclusion.
Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, expressed her lack of surprise at the court’s decision, stating, “As expected, today the Court refused to take responsibility for its failure to preside over this case in an impartial and unbiased manner. However, we remain determined and will continue to fight for our clients’ right to a fair trial.”
The lawsuit, filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleges that the defendants fraudulently inflated the values of Trump’s real estate properties and other assets for years in order to gain tax benefits, better loan terms, and other financial advantages.
In addition to seeking $250 million in damages, James aims to permanently prohibit Trump and his two adult sons from operating a business in New York.
Engoron has already found the defendants guilty of fraud and has ordered the revocation of their New York business certificates. The trial, which is being conducted without a jury, will determine the penalties and address James’ other allegations of wrongdoing by Trump and his co-defendants.
The dissolution of Trump’s business entities has been temporarily halted by an appeals court. In a recent ruling, Engoron dismissed all arguments for a mistrial made by the defense lawyers, stating that they were baseless. The defense lawyers had raised concerns about articles linked to by Engoron in his alumni newsletter, claiming that they created an appearance of impropriety. However, Engoron clarified that he had neither written nor contributed to any of the articles and that no reasonable reader could think otherwise. He also refuted claims that he and his clerk were “co-judging,” emphasizing that his rulings were his own. Due to the criticism faced by his clerk, Engoron has imposed gag orders on both Trump and his lawyers, prohibiting them from making any comments about her. Trump has already violated the gag order twice and has been fined $15,000 in total.
The temporary suspension of the gag orders was granted by a New York appeals judge on Thursday, who cited the importance of upholding constitutional and statutory rights. The defense lawyers, in their attempt to secure a mistrial, had also raised concerns about the clerk’s involvement in the case, claiming that her affiliations with Democratic groups compromised the integrity of the proceedings. Additionally, they accused the clerk of exceeding the $500 contribution limit that applies to members of a judge’s staff.
However, Engoron, the judge presiding over the case, pointed out that the clerk’s status as a candidate for judicial office exempts her from this limit when contributing to her own campaign or attending political events. Engoron dismissed the notion that the clerk’s participation in such events implies agreement with the views of the sponsoring organizations, emphasizing that he alone is responsible for making rulings and issuing orders.
The attorney general’s office has requested a comprehensive briefing schedule for the mistrial motion, according to his statement. However, he expressed his inability to endorse a proposed order to show cause that lacks merit and would render subsequent briefing pointless. The ongoing trial, which commenced last month, is anticipated to continue until late December. In addition to the fraud case and other civil matters, Donald Trump, a prominent Republican presidential candidate, is facing four pending criminal cases.