HomeNewsFormer Prosecutor Criticizes Judge Overseeing Bragg’s NY Case Against Trump

    Former Prosecutor Criticizes Judge Overseeing Bragg’s NY Case Against Trump

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    A former Manhattan prosecutor has stated that the judge appointed to oversee the 34-count indictment against Donald Trump by District Attorney Alvin Bragg should not have been assigned the case due to his history with the former president.

    Trump’s hush-money prosecution was allocated to New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan due to his prior experience presiding over litigation involving Trump and his company. The Wall Street Journal reported that this history could potentially complicate the proceedings and expose Merchan to additional assaults from Trump.

    According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Merchan was selected by the court’s administrative judge to supervise complex grand jury investigations into Trump and his enterprises for the next two years, resulting in his assignment to cases related to the investigations. Merchan is a 14-year veteran of the criminal trial court in Manhattan.

    “Since 2021, the judge has held the Trump Organization in contempt for failing to turn over documents in one probe by the Manhattan district attorney’s office; presided over a trial in which a jury convicted the company of tax fraud; and sentenced former company finance chief Allen Weisselberg to jail for tax and other offenses,” the WSJ reported further.

    The Trump Organization has submitted an appeal following its conviction for tax fraud. Christopher Brennan, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, stated that if a higher court overturned Merchan’s decision on the tax-fraud conviction, it could raise questions about his impartiality in the current criminal case against Trump.

    “There was not a random selection of a judge in this case, and there should have been,” Brennan told the paper. “He actually should be the last person selected, given the potential conflict.”

    The publication stated further:

    In April, Mr. Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to allegations that he falsified records to conceal a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election in the court of Justice Merchan.

    Mr. Trump, who has conducted a public campaign against the charges, has targeted Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who brought the case against the former president. However, Mr. Trump has also taken several verbal jabs at the judge and his family, claiming that Justice Merchan is prejudiced against him and citing the judge’s prior decisions as evidence.

    The administrative head of the Manhattan criminal court, Judge Ellen Biben, has contacted Justice Merchan on multiple occasions to supervise cases involving former President Trump. According to the WSJ, this includes his appointment to oversee a special grand jury in June 2021 that indicted the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg for tax fraud.

    Biben typically selects judges at random to oversee special grand juries, but in Justice Merchan’s case, she chose him based on his experience handling the ongoing subpoena dispute between the Trump Organization and the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

    In contrast to the New York federal courts, where local rules dictate the random assignment of judges to most newly returned indictments, judges who superintend special grand juries are frequently assigned to the resulting criminal cases in the Manhattan trial court, according to the source.

    “With the tax-fraud case pending in his court, Justice Merchan also supervised a special grand jury investigation of whether Mr. Trump fraudulently inflated and deflated the value of his assets on financial statements he provided to a lender and others, according to people familiar with the investigation. The probe expired without charges after then-District Attorney Cyrus Vance left office in 2021,” said the WSJ.

    The New York Times reports that prosecutors from Bragg’s office requested late last month that Merchan restrict Trump’s ability to examine the prosecution’s evidence against him without an attorney present.

    More on this story via Conservative Brief:

    Bragg’s office claims that such a restriction would thwart the former president from divulging case particulars as he endeavors to regain the presidency in 2024. CONTINUE READING…

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