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Home High profile Donald Trump is suing a judge in order to stop the hush-money criminal trial at the last minute, using a tactic that didn't work in a previous civil fraud case

Donald Trump is suing a judge in order to stop the hush-money criminal trial at the last minute, using a tactic that didn't work in a previous civil fraud case


In a moment of legal repetition, Donald Trump has reacted to a gag order by attempting to sue his trial judge.

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Left: Judge Juan Merchan poses for a picture in his chambers in New York, Thursday, March 14, 2024. Merchan is presiding over Donald Trump’s hush money case in New York (AP Photo/Seth Wenig). Right: FILE - Former President Donald Trump is escorted to a courtroom, April 4, 2023, in New York (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File).

Left: A photo of Judge Juan Merchan in his New York chambers on Thursday, March 14, 2024. He is overseeing the hush money case involving Donald Trump in New York. Right: A FILE photo of Former President Donald Trump being escorted to a courtroom in New York on April 4, 2023.

Donald Trump is taking legal action against his trial judge, Justice Juan Merchan, after the judge tried to limit Trump's public comments about witnesses, family members, court staff, and the District Attorney, which has happened before in a similar situation.

Trump's defense lawyers have appealed to the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court to sue Judge Merchan before the scheduled April 15 trial date regarding Trump's falsification of business records case. reportedly as part of an attempt to lift the gag order the judge updated last week and to move the trial venue out to somewhere other than Manhattan to ensure a fair proceeding.

The gag order modification was a response to Trump’s social media postings about the judge’s daughter, identifying her by name, including photographs, and railing against her political consulting for Democrats.

The Article 78 suit is a path Trump has taken twice before, without success in either instance. Those cases were brought against his civil fraud trial judge, New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron.

Trump first sued Engoron in September 2023, as he has now with Merchan, to halt the start of trial.

The prior case arose from Engoron's rejection of Trump's request for a trial delay based on the New York Attorney General Letitia James' disregard of an appellate ruling. The judge dismissed those arguments as "completely without merit" and Trump responded by suing.

Afterward, Engoron found Trump responsible for fraud at the summary judgment stage. Trump then dropped the lawsuit.

A second Article 78 suit was filed against Engoron in November 2023, in response to the judge’s gag orders, which were issued after the former president posted about the court’s clerk during the trial.

Engoron issued a gag order last October barring Trump from verbally attacking the judge’s court staff after the former president called the judge’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s “girlfriend” and accused her of “running the case against [him]” or “co-judging.”

Afterward, Engoron prohibited Trump attorneys Christopher Kise, Clifford Robert, and Alina Habba from “making any public statements, in or out of court, that refer to any confidential communications, in any form, between [the judge’s] staff and [the judge].” The judge remarked that the attorneys’ “long speeches alleging that it is improper for a judge to consult with a law clerk during ongoing proceedings, and that the passing of notes from a judge to a law clerk, or vice-versa, constitutes an improper ‘appearance of impropriety'” were baseless.

The second legal case was unsuccessful a month after it was submitted, and Trump refused to give evidence in the lawsuit.

Trump’s most recent Article 78 action occurred on the same day that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office strongly objected to a “renewed” defense request for Merchan’s disqualification.

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