Former President Donald Trump and his lawyers filed a memo supporting a mistrial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ (D) civil fraud case, arguing that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron demonstrated his bias for all to see as he told the court nine days ago: “We are not here to hear what [Trump] have to say.”
A memorandum of law filed on behalf of Trump, his eldest sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, and the Trump Organization, among others, said: “Evidence of apparent and actual bias.” […] coupled with an unprecedented departure from standard judicial procedure has “tainted that process,” warranting a mistrial.
A footnote at the bottom of the second page referred to Engoron’s comment that the 2019 phone call in Ukraine that led to Trump’s first impeachment might not have been so “perfect” after all:
In addressing the defendants’ motion for a directed verdict, particularly the importance that should be given to President Trump’s statement, the Court asked the following question: “Can I address something that is not on the record but is public knowledge?” I think the perfect conversation with Zelensky about military aid could have been a code form rather than a direct conversation.” Affirmation of Clifford Robert, ¶ 67. Such a reference to a purely political motive shows the court’s political bias and cannot separate that of its Principal Law Clerk from the commitment to fairness and impartiality.
The memo argued that these and other statements support the Trump team’s claim that “there can be no doubt about the public perception of bias in this case,” suggesting that even National Review’s Andrew McCarthy – “who politically rejects President Trump” – felt compelled to say:
See e.g. B. Andrew McCarthy, Elected Dem AG and Judge Cook Up a Fraud Theory in Trump’s New York Trial, Nat’l Review (November 7, 2023), at and-judge-cook-up-a-fraud-theory-in-trumps -new-york-trial/ (“The case against the former president lacks victims, so Tish James and Arthur Engoron make up some… Engoron keeps interrupting Trump and his lawyers by insisting that he has already made up his mind on Trump ( a) has committed fraud, (b) has overstated its assets and (c) cannot be protected by the disclaimer in its SFCs (which recommends counterparties carry out their own due diligence in valuing assets).”).
The memo also spent considerable time reiterating concerns about Engoron’s senior law clerk, Allison Greenfield. Trump shared a post about Greenfield on Truth Social in October, prompting Engoron to issue a gag order.
“Schumer’s friend Alison [sic] “R. Greenfield is pursuing this case against me,” the post said, referring to a photo Greenfield posed for with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D). “How shameful! This case should be dismissed immediately.”
The Trump memo claimed that Engoron had issued a gag order sua sponte (of one’s own accord) was “unconstitutional” and resulted in criticism being silenced and “the chief lawyer’s ‘co-judgment’ and party political activity being protected from public scrutiny.”
The memo supporting a mistrial also included photos obtained by Getty and the Associated Press of Greenfield sitting next to Engoron in court and accusing the clerk of unconstitutionally acting as a “co-judge.” The filing added screenshots of Greenfield’s political donations to Democrats (“Democratic Causes,” as the memo put it) and then accused the court of violation New York rules against it Excessive donations from employees.
“As already mentioned, the party political donations were made for 2023 while this lawsuit was pending!“ the memo continued, bolded and italicized by them. “More concerning than the fact that these donations exceed legal limits is what many (if not all) of these organizations are doing Actively support the Attorney General!”
But Greenfield wasn’t alone in engaging in activities that revealed bias, Trump lawyers argued.
Engoron is the founder and editor of the Wheatley School Alumni Association Newsletter and has “publicly posted links in the Wheatley newsletter he runs to articles denigrating parties and lawyers, including Eric Trump, President Trump, Ms. Habba, and Cushman and Wakefield, and discussing his own decisions that violate the Code.” “22 NYCRR § 100.3(B)(8),” the memo states.
If there was any doubt about Engoron’s “bias,” one need only look at his November 6 court statement, in which he referred to Trump and said, “We are not here to hear what he has to say.” it continues in the memo.
“The role of the court, particularly in a bench trial, is to listen carefully to the statements of all witnesses and consider them without bias or preference. “The foregoing statements, particularly when coupled with the Court’s prior and inappropriate determination that President Trump is not credible, certainly create the appearance of bias,” the memo said. “These record facts also rightly lead to the conclusion that the court has predetermined the outcome of these proceedings and is merely going through the motions before ultimately imposing the sentence.”
Overall, the Trump team said, there is “demonstrable partisan bias on the bench in the trial” that can only be cured by “an immediate dismissal” of the proceedings and a mistrial.
Read the Memorandum of Law Here.
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