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Trump Civil Fraud Judge Engoron Under Investigation For Alleged Ethics Breach

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


Judge Arthur Engoron, who levied a historic fine against former President Donald Trump in the civil fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, is now being investigated.

Allegations have surfaced that the judge had a private meeting with real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey mere weeks before he levied the $454 million fine against the former president.

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct is now investigating whether or not the judge improperly considered Bailey’s advice before issuing the fine, a local NBC affiliate reported.

“Bailey claimed in a television interview that he approached Engoron to share his perspective on a key legal issue related to the trial. He insisted that his intent was to help the judge understand the greater implications of the harsh ruling against Trump, particularly for New York’s economy. However, such conversations are prohibited under New York’s judicial conduct rules unless all parties are notified and given a chance to respond,” the report said.

“I actually had the ability to speak to him three weeks ago,”, the attorney said in a television interview with NBC New York . “I saw him in the corner [at 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.”

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The attorney said that he “explained to him” that the fraud statute being used in the case wasn’t meant to be used to destroy a massive company, particularly when there are no victims in the case.

He said he was concerned about how the law was being applied in the case and said that the judgment could negatively affect the economy of New York

“He had a lot of questions, you know, about certain cases. We went over it,” he said.

The judge, who rejected a similar argument raised by the attorneys for former President Trump in court, said that his conversation with the attorney did not influence his decision.

“No ex parte conversation concerning this matter occurred between Justice Engoron and Mr. Bailey or any other person. The decision Justice Engoron issued on February 16 was his alone, was deeply considered, and was wholly uninfluenced by this individual,” spokesperson for the New York State Office of Court Administration, Al Baker, said.

In April it was reported that Trump will challenge Judge Arthur Engoron’s definition of fraud that led to a $355 million judgment in the former president’s New York civil trial.

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Chris Kise, Trump’s principal lawyer in the case, told Newsweek that it “will depend on many factors so it’s hard to say at the moment, but in any event, it will fall within the 30-day clock” that is allowed by the court.

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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Kise also claimed that the American commercial property market will collapse in the next 12–18 months but authorities are set on chasing Trump.

“The irony here is that in the next 12–18 months, many commercial properties are likely going to go into default or distress, especially in cities like New York. However, unlike President Trump, many developers rely on very high debt loads, so a market collapse will be very consequential,” Kise said.

In September 2022, James filed a lawsuit against Trump, his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, the Trump Organization, and two firm executives, Allen Weisselberg and Jeff McConney.

Engoron, who oversaw the trial, claimed that Trump had inflated his assets in order to obtain more advantageous business loans. The banks said they were not harmed financially by any deals they did with Trump.

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