In a recent development, a New York judge has dismissed Donald Trump’s attempt to declare a mistrial in a civil fraud lawsuit that could potentially strip him and his co-defendants of hundreds of millions of dollars and bar him from conducting business in the state.
Trump and his co-defendants argued that the ongoing trial should be thrown out due to the alleged bias of the judge’s main law clerk, Allison Greenfield, who attended a Democratic event supporting Joe Biden.
However, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that the clerk’s attendance at the event, which was hosted by an external organization, does not reflect the clerk’s or judge’s views.
Engoron is currently overseeing the New York Attorney General’s lawsuit against Donald Trump, his two eldest sons, and other individuals and entities associated with his business empire. The state is seeking to compel the defendants to pay an estimated $250 million in damages and impose severe business restrictions.
In September, Engoron had already determined that Trump had engaged in fraud by inflating his asset values. The ongoing trial is now focusing on additional allegations, including the falsification of business records, insurance fraud, and potential financial penalties for the defendants.
Trump’s mistrial motion also highlighted the judge’s law clerk’s political contributions, suggesting a conflict of interest. However, Engoron clarified that the clerk had been running for judicial office, and contributions made by judicial candidates to their own campaigns are exempt from the usual cap. Engoron further emphasized that the clerk’s donations fell below the annual limit after excluding the cost of tickets to political events.
The judge’s ruling appears to swiftly address Trump’s mistrial request. The New York Attorney General’s Office had proposed a briefing schedule to address the allegations, but Engoron deemed it unnecessary, dismissing Trump’s claims as unfounded.
The decision comes a day after a New York appeals court lifted gag orders that prevented Trump and his legal team from commenting publicly on court staff. Engoron had previously imposed fines on Trump for violating these orders but acknowledged that the defense team would have some leeway when submitting a written mistrial request.
In his response, Engoron defended his practice of sharing news articles in a high school alumni newsletter, which mentioned the ongoing case. The judge stated that he had been publishing the newsletter for many years and that including references to articles involving graduates, including himself, was standard.
Engoron clarified that he did not write or contribute to the articles in question, and any reasonable reader would recognize this.
Engoron concluded his decision by asserting that his consultations with his law clerks were solely for his own benefit and did not involve “co-judging” with them. He emphasized that his right to seek advice from his clerks was absolute and independent, and his rulings ultimately rested with him alone.