05/18/2024

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‘The motion is denied’: Appeals court once again refuses to pause Trump’s ongoing hush-money trial over allegations judge ‘acted in excess’ of his jurisdiction

Former President Donald Trump appears in Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in New York. (Curtis Means/DailyMail.com via AP, Pool)

Attorneys for former President Donald Trump have once again failed to convince a New York appeals court to pause his hush-money trial.

Though well past the 11th hour, or even the 12th hour, the 45th president’s defense team sought to pump the brakes on his by-now in-progress criminal trial over a series of allegations against New York County Supreme Court Justice Juan M. Merchan in a three-pronged appeal filed with the First Judicial Department Appellate Division.

On Tuesday, the appeals court rejected the defense’s motion.

To hear the defense tell it, in the words of the court’s order, the trial judge previously “acted in excess” of his jurisdiction by: (1) “refusing to recuse himself” from the proceedings; (2) by restricting the number of docket entries and limiting the public record; (3) and by ruling that Trump is “foreclosed from relying in said proceedings on the presidential immunity doctrine as an evidentiary objection at trial.”

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    In sum and substance, the five judges listed on the order were asked to rule on essentially the same set of issues previously dispensed with by a lone member of the appellate court during an early April hearing. In that earlier hearing, Trump’s defense argued for a stay that would have temporarily put the kibosh on the then-upcoming trial over those three aforementioned issues leveled against Merchan.

    Trump previewed his recusal arguments in a letter responding to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s request for a gag order expansion. Bragg went on to argue against allowing the defense an opportunity to formally ask for recusal — noting that Trump previously mounted an unsuccessful effort to remove Merchan from the case because the judge’s daughter is a prominent Democratic Party consultant who has worked for the defendant’s political opponents.

    The trial judge decided to allow a briefing on the issue.

    The ex-president’s attorneys had to seek leave from Merchan to challenge the judge’s authority to oversee the case due to an earlier court ruling intended to tamp down on the number of docket entries.

    In that order, Merchan expressed disdain for defense efforts to increasingly delay the proceedings. In turn, he instructed both the defense and the state to file a one-page letter explaining why they needed to file any given motion before filing any additional motions.

    Finally, Trump’s team implored a pause due to constitutional issues before the U.S. Supreme Court. The defense has previously tried and failed to indefinitely adjourn the upcoming trial until after the nation’s high court rules on the “scope of the presidential immunity doctrine.”

    To hear the defense tell it, recent acknowledgments from Bragg that the state intends to use some of Trump’s social media posts — from when he was president — implicate presidential immunity arguments. Merchan rejected the defense’s arguments on this point in early April.

    At the time of the initial hearing — which sought a stay pending full briefing on those complaints — Justice Ellen Gesmer tersely disposed of the dilatory tactic almost immediately after oral arguments.

    “After hearing argument from counsel for all parties, the court denies movant’s application for a stay of the proceedings pending resolution of the Article 76 proceeding in the nature of prohibition,” the judge wrote.

    More Law&Crime coverage: ‘No longer truthful with us’: Michael Cohen’s former banker guides jury step-by-step through the details and lies that led to Stormy Daniels payoff in Trump hush-money trial

    In the Tuesday ruling, the explanation from the appellate group was a bit longer — but like the arguments, substantially the same.

    “Now, upon reading and filing the papers with respect to the motion, and due deliberation having been had thereon,” the court order explains. “It is ordered that the motion is denied.”

    Tuesday marked the fourth day of testimony in the presently-ongoing criminal trial — a historic first-time-ever criminal proceeding against a former U.S. president. In New York, Trump faces a 34-count felony indictment over allegedly falsified business records related to an alleged hush-money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016. Trump is simultaneously battling against four separate criminal indictments in three states and the District of Columbia.

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    The post ‘The motion is denied’: Appeals court once again refuses to pause Trump’s ongoing hush-money trial over allegations judge ‘acted in excess’ of his jurisdiction first appeared on Law & Crime.