NEW YORK (AP) — A last-minute legal challenge by Donald Trump’s lawyers could disrupt a trial scheduled for next month in the New York attorney general’s corporate fraud lawsuit against the former president and his company.
A state appeals court judge on Thursday ordered a potential postponement of the non-jury trial, scheduled to begin Oct. 2, after Trump’s lawyers filed a lawsuit accusing the trial judge, Arthur Engoron, of repeatedly abused his authority.
Judge David Friedman, a judge on the state’s intermediate appeals court, granted a temporary stay of the trial and ordered the full appeals court to hear the case expeditiously. The court has indicated it will issue a decision the week of September 25, meaning the trial could still begin on schedule depending on how it rules.
Among the issues raised by Trump’s lawyers are Engoron’s flat refusal to grant their recent request to postpone the trial for three weeks, which he deemed “completely unfounded,” and lingering uncertainty about the scope of the trial because he has yet to comply with the ruling on June. order of the appellate court to determine which claims in the fraud lawsuit are barred.
Other proceedings in Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against Trump and the Trump Organization will proceed as planned, Friedman said. They include oral arguments scheduled for Sept. 22 on requests from James’ office and Trump’s lawyers for Engoron to decide some or all of the cases before the trial begins.
Engoron declined to comment through a court spokeswoman.
In a statement, James said: “We are confident in our case and will be ready for trial.”
James’ lawsuit alleges that Trump defrauded banks, insurers and others with annual financial statements that inflated the value of his skyscrapers, golf courses and other assets and increased his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion. His lawsuit seeks $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.
Trump, the favorite for the Republican nomination in next year’s presidential election, has denied any wrongdoing.
In sworn testimony given for the lawsuit in April, Trump said he didn’t think his financial statements would be taken seriously because they have a disclaimer that says they shouldn’t be trusted. He told James, a Democrat, “You don’t have a case and you should drop this case.”
“Do you know that the banks have been paid in full? Do you know that the banks made a lot of money?” Trump testified. “Do you know that I don’t think I ever received even a formal notice, and even during Covid the banks were all getting paid? Yet you are suing on behalf of the banks , I guess. It’s crazy. The whole case is crazy.”
The lawsuit against Engoron, filed under a provision of state law known as Article 78, is Trump’s latest attack on the judges who preside over his many legal cases.
On Monday, Trump’s lawyers asked the federal judge presiding over the election subversion case in Washington to recuse himself, affirming U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s past public statements about him and his connection to the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol of the United States. question whether it can be right. This request is pending.
Before that, Trump had also sought to remove the judge in his Manhattan Silence criminal case. Trump’s lawyers have argued that Judge Juan Manuel Merchan is biased because he has given money to Democrats and his daughter is a consultant to the party, but Merchan last month rejected their request to recuse himself, saying he is certain of his ” ability to be fair and impartial”.
Trump has shown enmity for Engoron in the past, lashing out at him on social media as “evil, biased and mean” after a series of unfavorable judge rulings, including a contempt order that cost Trump $110,000 for failing to turn over the tests in Engoron. James’s office in a timely manner.
Trump’s lawyers fought unsuccessfully last year to have James’ case moved from Engoron’s courtroom to the court’s Commercial Division, which is set up to handle complex business disputes.
Engoron said the trial could take up to three months.
Trump’s lawyers asked Engoron to grant summary judgment by completely dismissing the case before the trial began. They argue that many of the lawsuit’s allegations are barred by the statute of limitations and that James has no standing to sue because the entities allegedly defrauded by Trump “never complained about, and in fact profited from, their business dealings” with he.
James’ office asked Engoron to grant summary judgment in his favor on one of seven claims in his lawsuit: that Trump and his company committed fraud.
To rule, Engoron only needs to answer two questions, James’ office argued: whether Trump’s annual financial statements were false or misleading, and whether he and the Trump Organization used those statements when conducting business transactions.
Trump is not expected to testify in court if the case goes to trial, but video recordings of his depositions may be played.
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