Donald Trump has filed for a mistrial in his New York civil fraud case, claiming that Judge Arthur Engoron and his law clerk Allison Greenfield have unfairly skewed the proceedings against the former president.
Trump’s attorneys accuse Engoron, who has clashed with the former president and his legal team throughout the trial, of improperly “co-judging” the case with Greenfield, writing in a Wednesday filing that the court had “impermissibly exceeded its discretion in granting [Greenfield] unprecedented status and input into these proceedings and restricted the speech of anyone who seeks to comment on this status, input and/or perceived partisan bias.”
Engoron leveled a narrowly tailored gag order against Trump, and later his counsel, after the former president publicly attacked Greenfield on social media. Engoron made clear that he would not tolerate attacks or public comments by Trump and his team against his staff.
“My law clerks are public servants who are performing their jobs in the manner in which I request. This includes providing legal authority and opinions, as well as responding to questions I pose to them,” Engoron wrote in a ruling earlier this month. “Plainly, defendants are not entitled to the confidential communications amongst me and my court staff, who are hired specifically to aid me in carrying out my adjudicative responsibilities. Nor are they entitled to continue referencing my staff in the record.”
Despite Engoron’s warnings against attacks on his staff, and his reiteration that his employees have the right to conduct the work assigned to them undisturbed, Trump has seized on Greenfield’s presence in the trial to attempt to have the entire case thrown out. “Only a judge, not an unelected staff member, may exercise judicial authority under the New York Constitution, and the People of New York declined to elect the Principal Law Clerk when she ran for office. She therefore has no constitutional authority to act as a ‘co-judge,’” the filing calling for a mistrial.
Trump’s lawyers also challenged the gag orders issued by Engoron as inappropriate measures taken to prevent the former president’s legal team from challenging Greenfield’s involvement in the trial.
Finally, the former president argues that the rulings in the case, including ones finding that he is liable for having committed fraud and compelling him and his children involved in the case to testify before the court, have been “both legally misguided and biased” in favor of New York Attorney General Letitia James.
Engoron himself will be the one to rule on the possibility of a mistrial. Trump’s desperate bid to have the case thrown out speaks to the reality that the former president’s combative behavior in court, and repeated public attacks against Engoron and New York prosecutors, will not earn him any leniency when Engoron rules on the fate of his companies, and how much he owes the state in damages.