November 17, 2023 - 1:44 pm
NEW YORK — The judge in Donald Trump ‘s civil fraud case denied his bid for a mistrial Friday, rejecting claims from the former president’s lawyers that the proceedings are infected with political bias.
Trump’s lawyers had urged Judge Arthur Engoron on Thursday to stop the case immediately, arguing he had irreparably harmed Trump’s right to a fair trial through “astonishing departures from ordinary standards of impartiality.” They cited his rulings against their client, the prominent role of the judge’s chief law clerk, the clerk’s political donations and the judge’s sharing of articles about the case with fellow alumni of his high school.
“My principal law clerk does not make rulings or issue orders — I do,” Engoron wrote, adding that “my rulings are mine, and mine alone.”
As for publishing a high school newsletter in which he has included links to articles about himself and the case, “none of this has anything to do with, much less does it interfere with, my presiding fairly, impartially, and professionally over the instant dispute, which I have now been doing for more than three years, and which I intend to do until its conclusion,” he wrote.
Trump attorney Alina Habba released a statement saying: “As expected, today the Court refused to take responsibility for its failure to preside over this case in an impartial and unbiased manner. We, however, remain undeterred and will continue to fight for our clients’ right to a fair trial.”
Messages seeking comment were sent to state Attorney General Letitia James’ office, which brought the civil case now on trial. The lawsuit alleges that Trump, his company and top executives exaggerated his wealth by billions of dollars on his financial statements, which were given to banks, insurers and others to secure loans and make deals.
Trump and the other defendants deny any wrongdoing.
Last week, Engoron spurned the defense’s request to end the trial through what’s known as a directed verdict.
Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has long complained about James, Engoron and the judge’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield. All are Democrats.
It’s a bench trial, meaning Engoron will decide the verdict.