Former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York is being closely watched by legal experts, with concerns raised about the judge’s potential reaction to Trump’s tactics. Michael Conway, former U.S. House Judiciary Committee counsel, warned in a column for MSNBC that Judge Engoron should be cautious of falling into the trap set by Trump’s legal team. Conway drew parallels to the trial of the “Chicago Seven,” where the defendants deliberately provoked Judge Julius Hoffman, leading to the overturning of jury convictions on appeal.
Conway highlighted Trump’s recent motion for a mistrial, alleging misconduct on Engoron’s part. While other experts criticized this move, Conway argued that if judges make errors in response to such tactics, an appellate court could deem the trial unfair and reverse the judgment. Conway also pointed out the strong language used by Engoron in rejecting Trump’s legal positions, including terms like “pure sophistry,” “risible,” “bogus arguments,” and “egregious.” While harsh language can be justified, Conway cautioned that pushing the envelope too far may risk an appellate court disagreeing with Engoron’s assessment and viewing it as evidence of judicial bias.
Conway further raised concerns about the drama surrounding Trump’s targeting of Engoron’s law clerk, which resulted in a partial gag order against the former president. Trump’s repeated criticism and false statements about the clerk led to threats of violence, and he was fined $15,000 for violating the gag order. Engoron’s issuance of gag orders, both in public and in court sessions, is now being scrutinized by a higher court, citing First Amendment protections.
Conway emphasized that Engoron’s potential overreactions and emotional responses could be seen as unnecessary unforced errors. To avoid the risk of having his decision overturned, Engoron should learn from the lessons of the Chicago Seven trial and not react to Trump’s inflammatory speech or his lawyers’ attempts to provoke. Conway stressed the importance of taking all necessary steps to ensure that a New York appellate court upholds Engoron’s decision, regardless of Trump’s tactics.
In conclusion, the article highlights the concerns raised by legal expert Michael Conway regarding Judge Engoron’s handling of Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York. Conway warns against falling into the same trap as the Chicago Seven trial and cautions Engoron to avoid emotional responses to Trump’s tactics. The article emphasizes the need for Engoron to take necessary measures to protect his decision from potential overturning by an appellate court.