Former President Donald J. Trump has taken legal action against the judge overseeing the civil fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The lawsuit, which was filed quietly by Trump's lawyers, accuses Judge Arthur F. Engoron of disregarding a previous appeals court decision that the former president's legal team believes should limit the scope of the case against him. The lawsuit seeks to delay the trial, which is scheduled to begin on October 2nd.
This move by Trump is his most recent attempt to challenge judges presiding over his various legal proceedings. Just earlier this week, his lawyers asked another judge in one of his criminal cases to voluntarily step aside. The civil trial in question centers around allegations made by Attorney General James, who accuses Trump, his business, and members of his family of fraudulently inflating their assets by billions of dollars.
The lawsuit against Judge Engoron and Attorney General James was initially kept private, but two individuals familiar with the matter confirmed its existence. The Daily Beast was the first to report on the filing. In response to Trump's legal action, the appeals court provisionally paused the trial so that it can consider the former president's challenge against Judge Engoron. A spokesperson for the state court system stated that a decision from the full appellate court panel is expected the week of September 25th, just days before the trial is set to begin.
Attorney General James expressed confidence in her case, stating, "We are confident in our case and will be ready for trial." However, Trump's legal strategy has often involved targeting judges. He previously attempted, unsuccessfully, to have the case moved out of Judge Engoron's courtroom last year. He also made unsuccessful attempts to disqualify Justice Juan M. Merchan and Judge Tanya S. Chutkan in separate cases against him.
In recent developments, Attorney General James filed documents alleging that Trump exaggerated his net worth by up to $2.2 billion annually to secure favorable loans. Trump's lawyers argue that the entire case should be dismissed, citing a legal time limit. They also requested a delay in the trial, claiming they were unable to adequately prepare without knowing the case's scope. However, Judge Engoron denied their request, stating that their arguments were without merit.
In response to the denial, Trump's legal team filed the lawsuit against Judge Engoron and Attorney General James. The lawsuit falls under a special proceeding known as an Article 78 action, which can be used to challenge New York state government agencies and judges. The outcome of the appeals court's decision could have significant implications for the case, as it may lead to the dismissal of many of the allegations against Trump.
The appeals court's temporary halt to the trial on October 2nd will depend on its ruling on Trump's challenge. A five-judge panel is currently considering the matter and expects to issue a decision in late September. However, the scheduled September 22nd hearing on both sides' motions for summary judgment will proceed as planned.
Attorney General James seeks a ruling declaring Trump's financial statements fraudulent, along with a $250 million fine and a ban on Trump and his sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, from leading the Trump Organization. The trial, which Engoron has estimated could last until Christmas, will play a crucial role in determining the outcome of the case. Trump has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has referred to the lawsuit as part of a Democratic "witch hunt."
As the legal battle continues, Trump also holds a significant lead in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. The outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications for his political aspirations and potential legal consequences.
themes: Donald Trump Christmas New York (state)