New York judge sets April 15 start date for Trump in falsified business records case News
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New York judge sets April 15 start date for Trump in falsified business records case

A New York judge set an April 15 start date on Monday for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal case against former US President Donald Trump. The trial was originally scheduled to proceed on March 25, but the prosecution disclosed almost 100,000 pages of discovery shortly before the scheduled start date, which caused Trump’s legal counsel to petition the court for more time to prepare. Judge Juan Manuel Merchan agreed to a 30-day delay to the March 25 start date—a decision he upheld on Monday.

Merchan held a hearing in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday to resolve “significant questions of fact” that Trump’s legal counsel raised regarding the delayed discovery disclosure. Merchan scheduled the hearing after receiving several filings from both Trump and Bragg about discovery issues in the case.

On March 8, Trump’s legal counsel requested the court dismiss the case and issue discovery sanctions against the prosecution for alleged violation of the Criminal Procedure Law Article 245, which governs discovery procedures in New York criminal cases. There was then a series of filings from both the prosecution and Trump’s legal counsel. Amidst the filings, on March 14, was a notice from the prosecution of an additional 31,000 pages of discovery materials from the US Attorney’s Office. This was on top of the nearly 73,000 pages of documents the prosecution turned over from the US Attorney’s Office in the weeks leading up to the March 14 filing.

While Trump’s legal counsel urged the court to weigh in on broader discovery issues, Merchan limited Monday’s hearing to alleged discovery violations surrounding the disclosure of the approximately 104,000 pages of documents from the US Attorney’s Office. Trump’s legal counsel urged the court to dismiss the case on the basis that Bragg’s team failed to disclose the documents in a timely matter. Trump’s counsel insisted that such delay resulted in prejudice to Trump’s defense. But during Monday’s hearing, Merchan disagreed.

Instead, Merchan found that Bragg’s team went above and beyond their discovery obligations in providing Trump with the 104,000 pages from the US Attorney’s Office. Merchan ultimately ruled that Bragg’s team was not at fault for the delayed production of the documents and found that the delayed disclosure did not negatively impact Trump’s case.

Merchan concluded Monday’s hearing by stating that Trump’s trial will proceed to jury selection on April 15. “See you all on the 15th,” Merchan concluded.

If the case proceeds as scheduled, it will be the first of the four criminal trials pending against the former president to go to trial. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of “falsifying business records in the first degree.” The charges stem from alleged “hush money” payments made from former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep potentially damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.