Appeals Court Denies Trump’s Bid to Have Judge Merchan Recused

A New York state appeals court denied a request from former President Donald Trump.

A New York state appeals court denied a request from former President Donald Trump to have his so-called “hush-money” judge removed.

Lawyers for the former president sought a stay in the proceedings and the recusal of Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the trial that will likely last for at least another month. Both the application for his recusal and for a stay in the case were denied on Tuesday without explanation by the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division for the First Department.

His lawyers had argued that the trial judge should be removed because he had acted out of his jurisdiction by refusing to recuse himself and restricting the number of docket entries, among other matters.

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

In April, before the jury selection process started, Judge Merchan himself denied a request from President Trump’s attorneys to step down. Several days before that, the former president’s lawyers said in a hearing that the trial should be delayed, which the court also denied.

“The unconstitutional effects of Justice Merchan’s rulings are causing ongoing, irreparable constitutional harms to Petitioner and the voting public and, if not stopped, will prevent Petitioner from receiving a fair trial,” Trump attorney Todd Blanche wrote in an application to the court. A judge, Ellen Gesmer, denied the application.

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Also last month, the state appeals court rejected another bid to stay the trial while the defense tried to move the trial away from Manhattan, arguing that they were concerned that the jury pool would be tainted. The court also rejected an appeal to pause the trial while President Trump appealed a gag order that was handed down by Judge Merchan earlier this year.

On Tuesday morning, Judge Merchan fined President Trump $9,000 for nine separate posts he made online that he believes violated the gag order. He further warned President Trump that he could be incarcerated if he continues to make the posts.

Previously, President Trump and his attorneys argued that the gag order, which prohibits the former president from commenting on most people connected to the case, is a violation of his First Amendment rights.

In a social media statement after the fines were handed down, President Trump wrote: “This gag order is not only unique, it’s totally unconstitutional. I am the Republican Candidate for President of the United States.”

“This is a total Witch Hunt. Hours of sitting down and listening to nothing except EXONERATION AND LIES,” he continued. “The Trial is going like a speeding bullet, because the Judge is working hard to make all of his friends happy. Merchan is Rigged, Crooked and above all, and without question, CONFLICTED. It’s a disgrace to our Country — They’ve taken away my Right to Free Speech.”

In the New York case, prosecutors have alleged President Trump and his associates took part in an illegal scheme to influence the 2016 election by buying and then suppressing negative stories, including a claim from porn performer Stormy Daniels. The GOP presidential hopeful is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with the hush money payments.

He has pleaded not guilty and denied allegations that he was involved in an affair with Ms. Daniels in 2006. The former president has maintained that the trial is part of an effort to harm his campaign ahead of the election.

Judge Juan M. Merchan poses in his chambers in New York on March 14, 2024. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo)
Judge Juan M. Merchan poses in his chambers in New York on March 14, 2024. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo)

Testimony on Tuesday focused on a banker who helped former Trump attorney Michael Cohen open accounts, including one used to buy Ms. Daniels’ silence. President Trump’s attorneys have suggested that the payments were aimed at protecting his name and his family—not influencing the outcome of the presidential election.

Jurors so far have heard from two other witnesses. The former president’s ex-assistant, Rhona Graff, recounted that she recalled once seeing Ms. Clifford at President Trump’s office suite in Trump Tower and said the performer may have been a potential contestant for one of President Trump’s “Apprentice”-brand shows.

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker laid out how he agreed to serve as the 2016 campaign’s “eyes and ears” by helping to squelch unflattering rumors. The former president’s attorneys say that payments related to that effort are normal and not illegal.

In a small win for the former president, Judge Merchan wrote that the criminal trial will not be held on May 17 so the former president may attend his son Barron’s graduation from high school. “I don’t think the May 17 date is a problem, so Mr. Trump can certainly attend that date, attend his son’s graduation,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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