Politics

Judge Delivers Ruling on Trump’s Bid For A Mistrial in Daniels’ Case

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.


Former President Donald Trump’s legal team made a pair of procedural requests during his hush money criminal trial, both of which were denied by Judge Juan Merchan earlier this week.

The first request was for a mistrial, which had already been denied two days prior. The second request sought to modify the gag order to allow Trump to publicly discuss adult film actress and star witness Stormy Daniels following her testimony. However, the judge also declined this request.

During the trial, Daniels defended herself against accusations of story discrepancies made by Trump’s attorneys, as her allegations about an alleged sexual encounter with the former president are central to the case.

“Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche requested a mistrial, arguing some of her testimony, including details about an alleged sexual encounter, are unrelated to charges in the case and that her testimony was detrimental.
Merchan rejected the defense’s claim that Daniels’ testimony differed from her previous accounts,” Axios reported. “The judge brought up specific issues with the defense’s arguments, including that instead of denying the falsification of business records, they’re denying the alleged sexual encounter Daniels spoke about.”

“That, in my mind, allows the people to do what they can to rehabilitate her and to corroborate her story. Your motion for a mistrial is denied,” Merchan said.

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On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers requested the court narrow the gag order so he could speak publicly about the case now that Daniels has testified.

“He needs an opportunity to respond to the American people,” Blanche said. “She is no longer a witness.”
The judge denied the motion, saying, “The reason why the gag order is in place to begin with is precisely because of the nature of these attacks — the vitriol.”

Meanwhile, Judge Arthur Engoron, who presided over Trump’s civil fraud trial, is currently the subject of an investigation after accepting unsolicited advice from a renowned New York real estate lawyer. In addition to fining the former president $454 million for fraudulently inflating his assets, the controversial left-wing judge also found two of Trump’s sons, his business associates, and the Trump Organization guilty.

Last week, real estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey acknowledged to NBC that, in violation of the law, he provided Engoron with unsolicited advice three weeks before the latter decided the case, according to NBC New York.

“I actually had the ability to speak to him three weeks ago. I saw him in the corner [near the courthouse], and I told my client, ‘I need to go.’ And I walked over, and we started talking .… I wanted him to know what I think and why.…I really want him to get it right,” Bailey told reporters on February 16, the same day as Engoron’s final decision.

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the state’s judicial oversight body, is now investigating the matter.

“A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers,” according to the New York State Rules of Judicial Conduct.

However, the rules make an exception for seeking advice from a neutral expert.

“A judge may obtain the advice of a disinterested expert on the law applicable to a proceeding before the judge if the judge gives notice to the parties …and affords the parties reasonable opportunity to respond,” the report said.

Engoron denied making any improper comments to Bailey through the court’s spokesman and stated that his final verdict was “wholly uninfluenced” by the conversation.

“The decision Justice Engoron issued February 16 was his alone, was deeply considered, and was wholly uninfluenced by this individual,” the spokesman added.

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