Trump legal team files for partisan Judge Engoron to recuse himself

Former President Donald J. Trump’s legal team has filed a motion in his civil fraud case calling for partisan New York Judge Arthur Engoron to recuse himself.

In the motion filed on Thursday with the New York State Supreme Court, Trump’s lawyers alleged that Engoron engaged in “prohibited communications” and accused him of actions that were “fundamentally incompatible with the responsibilities attendant to donning the black robe and sitting in judgment.”

The motion refers to an alleged conversation between the judge and a prominent New York City real estate attorney “regarding the merits of this case, the permissible scope of the New York State Attorney General’s and this Court’s own authority under Executive Law… and the consequences of this Court’s decision on business in the State.”

(Video Credit: MSNBC)

It was reported last month that Engoron was being investigated by the state’s commission on judicial conduct as to whether his talk with Adam Leitman Bailey which was first reported by NBC New York in February broke any rules.

“The New York Code of Judicial Conduct exists to ensure that litigants are afforded a fair and impartial trial. Justice Engoron’s communications with Attorney Adam Leitman Bailey regarding the merits of this case, however, directly violate that code and demonstrate that Judge Engoron cannot serve as a fair arbiter. It is clear that Judge Engoron should recuse himself immediately,” Alina Habba, Trump’s spokesperson and attorney in the case, said in a statement.

“Although Mr. Bailey claims that President Trump was not mentioned by name in the conversation when asked whether ‘it was obvious that [his] input was related to this case,’ Mr. Bailey stated ‘well[,] obviously we weren’t talking about the Mets,’” the filing says, according to Fox News.

In February, Engoron ruled that the presumptive GOP nominee was liable for $350 million in damages in the ginned-up case brought against him by Democrat New York Attorney General Letitia James, a part of the multi-pronged lawfare onslaught against Trump in an election year.

The judge was critical of the former president’s courtroom behavior during the sham trial, complaining that he “rarely responded to the questions asked, and he frequently interjected long, irrelevant speeches on issues far beyond the scope of the trial.”

Trump has appealed the ruling.

“I actually had the ability to speak to him three weeks ago,” Bailey told NBC New York in an interview.”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.”

(Video Credit: NBC New York)

“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.

“The law is clear that any communication outside of the presence of the parties or their lawyers must be strictly scrutinized,” Trump’s lawyers said in the filing. “The Court is obligated to avoid attempted ex parte communications, and if an ex parte communication does occur, the Court should, at minimum, promptly notify all parties of the communication.”

“Here, it is beyond dispute that neither Defendants nor the Attorney General were present during the purported communication with Mr. Bailey. Nor did this Court ever notify either party that the purported communication took place, which would have at least permitted an opportunity for comment on the substance of the conversation, as conveyed by this Court,” the filing says.

Chris Donaldson

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