Trump judge Engoron reportedly under investigation over conduct during the case

The judge in the civil fraud trial of former President Donald J. Trump is reportedly being investigated for allegedly receiving unsolicited advice from a New York real estate lawyer.

Judge Arthur Engoron who presided over New York Attorney General Letitia James’ trumped-up case against the presumptive GOP nominee is facing a probe by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct to determine whether the conversation broke any rules.

Engoron, who hit Trump with an unprecedented $454 million penalty in what some see as a Democrat-backed effort to bankrupt him, is alleged to have spoken to attorney Adam Leitman Bailey weeks before his extreme financial punishment of the real estate billionaire.

“According to multiple sources familiar with the case, the state’s commission on judicial conduct will consider whether Engoron broke any rules,” the Daily Mail reported.

(Video: YouTube/NBC New York)

Bailey, a high-profile lawyer who is often quoted by the press, said that he engaged in a conversation with the judge who he told to “get it right” weeks before the ruling, making the claim in an interview with NBC New York on February 16 that’s getting renewed attention amid reports of the state investigation.

“I actually had the ability to speak to him three weeks ago,” he told the outlet.”I saw him in the corner [at 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 said he ‘explained to him’ that a fraud statute at issue in the case was not intended to be used to shut down a major company, especially in a case without clear victims. He said such a ruling would hurt New York’s economy. Engoron had rejected a similar argument raised by the Trump team in court,” NBC New York reported.

“He had a lot of questions, you know, about certain cases. We went over it,” said Bailey.

A spokesperson for the judge denied the report and said that Engoron was “wholly uninfluenced” by Bailey.

“No ex parte conversation concerning this matter occurred between Justice Engoron and Mr. Bailey or any other person. The decision Justice Engoron issued February 16 was his alone, was deeply considered, and was wholly uninfluenced by this individual,” said Al Baker, a spox for the New York State’s Office of Court Administration.

According to the New York State Rules of Judicial Conduct, “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.”

“The rules do allow an exception to “obtain the advice of a disinterested expert,” if a judge gives notice to the parties in the case and gives them the opportunity to respond,” NBC New York notes. “‘Ex parte’ means a conversation between a lawyer and a judge without any of the other personnel in a case present.”

One of Trump’s defense team members, Christopher Kise who has criticized Engoron, said if what Bailey says is true, it could call into question the integrity of the entire process.

“The code doesn’t provide an exception for ‘well, this was a small conversation’ or ‘well, it didn’t really impact me’ or ‘well, this wasn’t something that I, the judge, found significant,” he said. “No. The code is very clear.”

Trump – who has described Judge Engoron as “crazed” and “corrupt” among other things – posted a $175 million bond to keep James at bay from seizing his assets while he appeals the judge’s ruling.

“A crooked New York judge working with the very corrupt attorney general of New York State, who ran on the basis of ‘I will get Trump’ before knowing me — before even knowing anything about me — just ruled that I have to pay a fine of $355 million based on absolutely nothing,” Trump told Fox News Digital after the ruling, citing a figure before interest was added. “No victims. No damages. Great financial statements, with full disclaimer clauses, only success.”

Chris Donaldson

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