New York Judge Arthur Engoron on Friday declined to sign a mistrial motion filed by former US President Donald Trump in a civil fraud case against the Trump family and Trump Organization, stating the motion was “utterly without merit.”
Trump filed the mistrial motion on November 15 alleging misconduct by court officials overseeing the case, including Engoron. Trump accused Engoron of “exhibiting bias” by publishing articles in a high school alumni newspaper referencing the case and ignoring political donations made by his law clerk. Additionally, Trump accused Engoron of “co-judging” with his law clerk.
Engoron rebutted each of Trump’s accusations. First, Engoron stated he did not contribute to or write any of the articles in a high school alumni newsletter cited as eliciting the “appearance of impropriety.” Second, he dismissed the allegations that his law clerk violated political campaign contribution limits by citing Judicial Opinion 98-19. The opinion allows contributions in excess of the general $500 limit if a court employee is running as a judicial candidate and contributing to their own campaign. Engoron stated his law clerk has been pursuing elected judicial office since 2020.
Finally, Engoron dismissed the allegation of “co-judging” with his law clerk. A footnote provided stated that while law clerks are not considered “partners” of judges, they are engaged in a relationship founded on “trust and confidence.” This relationship allows judges “absolute discretion” to consult with their law clerk in “any way, shape, or form.” Engoron affirmed the dismissal stating that there was “absolutely no ‘co-judging’ at play.”
By rejecting the motion, Engoron allowed the case to continue “in the interest of justice,” pursuant to New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules Section 4402. However, the denial is likely to be appealed. Trump recently won an appeal related to a gag order in the same civil fraud case.