Court rejects Trump bid to delay business fraud trial

The ruling clears the way for Judge Arthur Engoron to preside over a non-jury trial starting Monday

NEW YORK (AP) — An appeals court denied Donald Trump’s request to postpone a civil trial in a lawsuit brought by New York’s attorney general on Thursday, allowing the case to proceed just days after a judge ruled the former president committed years of fraud and stripped him of some companies as punishment.

The decision by the state’s intermediate appellate court clears the way for Judge Arthur Engoron to preside over a non-jury trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil lawsuit beginning Monday in Manhattan.

Trump is listed as one of dozens of potential witnesses, raising the prospect of a courtroom brawl with the judge. The fraud ruling handed down on Tuesday threatens to destabilize his real estate empire, forcing him to give up prized New York properties such as Trump Tower, a Wall Street office building, golf courses, and a suburban estate.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that some of his assets are worth far more than what is listed on annual financial statements, which Engoron claims he used to secure loans and make deals. Trump has claimed that the statements contain disclaimers that release him from liability. His attorneys have stated that he will file an appeal. Messages seeking comment were left with Trump’s lawyers and James’ office on Thursday.

In New York, “these cases take many years to get to trial,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform on Wednesday, appearing to conflate several of his legal adversaries. “My Political Witch Hunt case is set to begin on Monday.” Nobody believes it? This is a ‘Railroading’ job that the Radical Left DOJ is pushing hard for the purpose of election interference. “This is a very DARK time for New York State and America!”

Trump’s lawyers initially sought to postpone the trial until Engoron’s decision, but the decision only bolstered their claims that the judge was abusing his authority.

On September 14, Trump’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against Engoron, accusing him of breaking the law and impeding their preparations by failing to comply with a June appeals court order that he limit the scope of the trial based on the statute of limitations.

They filed the lawsuit under Article 78, which allows for challenges to certain judicial decisions, and requested that the trial be postponed until that matter was resolved.

David Friedman, an appeals court judge, granted an interim stay of the trial while the full appeals court considered the lawsuit expeditiously. The stay was lifted on Thursday, allowing the trial to proceed as planned. The appeals court did not rule on the defense’s underlying Engoron complaints. Engoron declined to participate in the appeals court process through a court lawyer. Other proceedings in the case continued while the panel deliberated on a delay.

Engoron found Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, defrauded banks, insurers, and others with annual financial statements that massively overvalued his assets and exaggerated his wealth in a summary judgment ruling on Tuesday. Engoron ordered that some of Trump’s businesses be taken over and dissolved. James claims Trump increased his net worth by up to $3.6 billion.

In a letter to the appeals court, Trump’s lawyers stated that Engoron’s 35-page decision demonstrated that he was still intent on defying the appeals court by ignoring the statute of limitations issue. Engoron refused to dismiss any claims and based his fraud ruling in part on stale allegations that should have been dismissed, according to Trump lawyer Clifford Robert.

The key claim in James’ lawsuit was resolved by Engoron’s fraud ruling, but six others remained. Allegations include conspiracy, falsifying business records, and insurance fraud. In addition, the judge will rule on James’ request for $250 million in penalties.

Trump’s lawsuit against Engoron, according to James’ office, is a “brazen and meritless attempt” to usurp his authority, and any delay “would likely wreak havoc on the trial schedule” and could cause conflicts with Trump’s four pending criminal cases.

The civil trial is the culmination of James’ office’s years-long investigation, which saw Trump questioned under oath and millions of pages of documents exchange hands. Engoron estimates it will take three months.

Trump’s lawyers pressed Engoron for clarification on his ruling, which revokes Trump’s New York business licenses and transfers control of some of his companies to a court-appointed receiver, during a hearing on Wednesday. Kise proposed canceling the trial entirely because the judge had already ruled on the most important issue.

“So, I’m just, me, wondering: what’s the point?” Kise inquired.

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