A New York state judge Wednesday admonished former President Donald Trump and his legal team for “excess verbiage” in legal filings, which prompted New York Attorney General Letitia James to request sanctions on Tuesday. However, Judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing the civil lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court, declined to sanction Trump’s legal team for the nearly 300-page pretrial filing submitted on January 26. Trump’s legal team instead committed to refile the answer and trim down the length.
According to a Daily Beast reporter in the courtroom Wednesday, over a dozen lawyers gathered before Engoron to address a sanctions request raised by James on Tuesday. Lawyers for the New York Attorney General’s Office argued that Trump lied in the answer to James’ September 2022 complaint. Specifically, James’ office argued Trump’s legal team falsely denied facts that they previously admitted in addition to denying knowledge sufficient to respond to the complaint and used defenses previously rejected by the court.
Trump’s legal team disputed the accusations and asked to negotiate behind closed doors, rather than in open court before the media. A lawyer for Eric Trump, one of Trump’s children included in James’ lawsuit, argued the answer was not filed in bad faith. The heart of Trump’s legal team’s argument appeared to be that James’ wrongly named the Trump Organization in her original complaint. Because of the corporate structure of the Trump Organization, Trump’s legal team argues that the Trump Organization is not the correct legal entity to charge.
After a little over an hour, Engoron called for a recess. During that time, Trump’s legal team and James’ office reached an agreement. James’ office will specifically identify the shortcomings in Trump’s nearly 300-page answer in exchange for Trump’s legal team filing an amended answer addressing said shortcomings.
James first filed the civil lawsuit in September 2022. In the lawsuit, James alleged Trump, with the help of his children Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric knowingly and intentionally entered more than 200 false valuations of assets on financial documents in violation of New York Executive Law 63(12). James is seeking to permanently bar Trump and his children from serving as an officer or director of any licensed New York corporation or business, bar Trump and his organization from acquiring any New York real estate for five years, and to obtain disgorgement of all financial benefits Trump obtained—estimated at a total of $250 million.
If the lawsuit does not settle, it is set to go to a bench trial before Engoron on October 2.