Court orders Trump fraud trial be temporarily halted after he sues the judge

Directive issued in surprise virtual hearing closed to the public

Maroosha Muzaffar
Friday 15 September 2023 05:44 BST
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A fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump and his family business has been temporarily halted by a judge from a New York state appeals court.

The judge’s directive for the upcoming 2 October trial in the fraud lawsuit filed by New York attorney general Letitia James was issued during a surprise virtual hearing closed to the public.

The order was issued in response to the former US president’s lawsuit against Justice Arthur Engoron, the trial judge responsible for the case.

In his lawsuit, Mr Trump accused Mr Engoron and Ms James of disregarding a court order that could limit the scope of the lawsuit, the Daily Beast reported.

A court spokesperson said Justice David Friedman from the appeals court granted a temporary suspension of the trial and referred the issue to a five-judge panel that is expected to rule during the last week of September.

“We are confident in our case and will be ready for trial,” said Ms James in a statement in response.

The trial could still begin on 2 October as it remains contingent upon the decision of the appeals court, commonly referred to as the First Department.

In an emergency court filing on Thursday morning, lawyers representing the former president and his associates emphasised the need for New York’s higher courts to intervene urgently.

They are seeking the involvement of an appellate judge to initiate an “Article 78 proceeding”, which aims to compel Mr Engoron to significantly weaken the case brought forward by the attorney general.

Ms James has said there is a “mountain of evidence” indicating Mr Trump and his associates lied over a decade regarding his assets and net worth. These alleged misrepresentations, she said, may have led to an inflation of up to $3.6bn to secure more favourable loan and insurance terms.

Ms James is pursuing a $250m fine and seeking to prohibit Mr Trump and his sons, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, from assuming leadership positions within the Trump Organization, the family business.

The lawsuit was initiated by the attorney general in September last year after a three-year investigation.

“I am determined to start the case on time,” Mr Engoron had said earlier this year.

“Come hell or high water.”

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