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Judge in Trump Trial Faces Corruption Allegations

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Judge Arthur Engoron, who presided over the trial of former President Donald Trump for civil fraud, is currently the subject of an investigation after accepting unsolicited advice from a renowned New York real estate lawyer.

In addition to fining the former president $454 million for fraudulently inflating his assets, the controversial left-wing judge also found two of Trump’s sons, his business associates, and the Trump Organization guilty.

Last week, real estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey acknowledged to NBC that, in violation of the law, he provided Engoron with unsolicited advice three weeks before the latter decided the case, according to NBC New York.

“I actually had the ability to speak to him three weeks ago. I saw him in the corner [near the courthouse] and I told my client, ‘I need to go.’ And I walked over and we started talking .… I wanted him to know what I think and why.…I really want him to get it right,” Bailey told reporters on February 16, the same day as Engoron’s final decision.

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the state’s judicial oversight body, is now investigating the matter.

“A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers,” according to the New York State Rules of Judicial Conduct.

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However, the rules make an exception for seeking advice from a neutral expert.

“A judge may obtain the advice of a disinterested expert on the law applicable to a proceeding before the judge if the judge gives notice to the parties …and affords the parties reasonable opportunity to respond,” the report said.

Engoron denied making any improper comments to Bailey through the court’s spokesman and stated that his final verdict was “wholly uninfluenced” by the conversation.

“The decision Justice Engoron issued February 16 was his alone, was deeply considered, and was wholly uninfluenced by this individual,” the spokesman added.

Bailey told NBC that the judge should have ruled as the Trump Organization would suffer economic consequences from a hefty fine.

The lawyer claimed to have told Engoron that the anti-fraud statute that was used against Trump was not intended to be used to shut down a large company, especially in a case where there were no victims.

Engoron agreed with Democratic Attorney General of New York Letitia James’ decision that Trump overvalued his properties in order to qualify for advantageous loans, which had an impact on the market.

Bailey, who asserts that he is not a Trump supporter, stated that he was unrelated to any of the cases brought against the former president. However, Bailey has appeared before Engoron “hundreds of times” in court, and the judge “had a lot of questions, you know, about certain cases” in their private conversations.

Bailey said to NBC that since they had only discussed the law, neither of them had broken any laws.

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“We didn’t even mention the word Donald Trump,” said Bailey, adding: “Well, obviously we weren’t talking about the Mets.”

Christopher Kise, an attorney on the former president’s legal team, told NBC New York: “The code doesn’t provide an exception for ‘well, this was a small conversation’ or ‘well, it didn’t really impact me’.…The code is very clear.”

Kise accused New York Attorney General Letitia James and Engoron of trying to force Trump out of New York, calling it a sad day for the city.

“The case raises serious legal and constitutional questions regarding ‘fraud’ claims/findings without any actual fraud,” Kise said.

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