15 Sep 2023

Judge temporarily halts NY fraud trial against Trump

2:27 pm on 15 September 2023
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference, June 11, 2019 in New York City.

New York Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: AFP

A New York state appeals court judge has temporarily halted the scheduled 2 October trial in New York Attorney General Letitia James' fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump and his family business, a spokesman for the court said.

The order came after the former US president sued Justice Arthur Engoron, the trial judge overseeing the case, accusing him and James of defying a court order that could narrow the lawsuit, according to a report in the Daily Beast.

According to the court spokesman, appeals court Justice David Friedman granted an interim stay of the trial, and referred the matter to a five-judge panel, which expects to rule in the last week of September.

The trial could still begin on 2 October depending on how the appeals court, known as the First Department, rules.

Friedman's stay does not apply to a scheduled 22 September hearing before Engoron on both sides' motions for summary judgment, which can proceed as planned, the court spokesman said.

James wants a ruling that Trump's financial statements were fraudulent, while the defendants want most or all of the attorney general's claims dismissed. Engoron has said the trial could last until near Christmas.

(FILES) Former US President Donald Trump attends the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on August 12, 2023. Donald Trump was indicted August 14, 2023 on charges of racketeering and a string of election crimes after a sprawling two-year probe into his efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat to Joe Biden in the US state of Georgia, according to a court filing.
The case -- relying on laws typically used to bring down mobsters -- is the fourth targeting the 77-year-old Republican this year and could lead to a watershed moment, the first televised trial of a former president in US history. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)

Former US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP / Stefani Reynolds

Lawyers for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

James said in a statement: "We are confident in our case and will be ready for trial."

The attorney general has said that a "mountain of evidence" shows how Trump and his associates lied over a decade about his assets and net worth, which she says may have been inflated by as much as US$3.6 billion, to obtain better terms on loans and insurance.

She is seeking a US$250 million fine, and to bar Trump and his sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump from leading the family business, the Trump Organization. James filed her lawsuit in September 2022, after a three-year probe.

In July, the appeals court said statutes of limitations may preclude James from suing over claims that arose before 13 July 2014, or 6 February 2016, and said Engoron should decide which could proceed.

Trump holds a dominant lead in the 2024 race for the Republican presidential nomination.

He has denied wrongdoing, and called James' case part of a Democratic "witch hunt."

In January, Engoron said the "witch hunt" argument did not justify a dismissal, and said some defence arguments were "borderline frivolous even the first time defendants made them."

-This story was first published by Reuters

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