Donald Trump loses motions to delay start of New York falsified documents trial News
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Donald Trump loses motions to delay start of New York falsified documents trial

A New York appellate court denied an effort by former US President Donald Trump on Monday to delay the start of his upcoming falsified documents criminal case. The New York Times reported earlier on Monday that Trump filed several challenges against Judge Juan Merchan, who is overseeing the falsified documents trial. With the appellate court’s denial, the case is still set to proceed to trial on April 15.

According to the New York Times, Trump’s legal team began filing three appellate court challenges in the case on Monday. The first sought to lessen or completely lift Merchan’s March 26 gag order against the former president. The second sought to challenge Merchan’s ability to oversee the case under what is known as an Article 78 proceeding. Under New York Law, Article 78 proceedings challenge the action or inaction by agencies of New York State and local governments. The third argued that, because of the publicity of the charges and the bias against Trump in the Manhattan, New York jury pool, the trial would need to take place somewhere else. Anticipating that all three challenges would need to be argued further, Trump’s legal counsel requested the April 15 trial start date be delayed. 

On Monday afternoon, Trump’s legal counsel Emil Bove and a lawyer from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, Steven Wu, appeared before the appellate court to present oral arguments on the three challenges. Following oral arguments, Judge Lizbeth Gonzalez of the appellate division denied all three challenges. In a one-sentence order, Gonzalez wrote, “Defendant’s application for a stay of trial…is denied.”

While the appellate challenges have been settled for now, there is still an outstanding motion from Trump to have Merchan recuse himself from overseeing the case. In the April 3 recusal motion, Trump’s legal counsel argued that Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, was biased against the former president because of her relationship with Democratic political clients. For context, Trump is currently in the middle of campaigning for the 2024 US presidential race as the Republican nominee. Another argument Trump put forward in the recusal motion is that Merchan, himself, possesses some bias against Trump.

Lawyers from Bragg’s office responded to Trump’s recusal motion on Monday, writing:

[D]efendant’s motion is nothing more than his latest effort to delay the forthcoming trial; and—in both timing and substance—appears transparently reverse-engineered to provide an ex post justification for defendant’s attacks on the Court and the Court’s family.

Merchan has yet to rule on the recusal motion, but a decision is expected this week ahead of the start of the trial.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of “falsifying business records in the first degree” in the case pending before Merchan. 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. If the case proceeds on the scheduled April 15 date, it will be the first of four criminal trials pending against the former president to go to trial.