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New York Launches Probe Into Trump Judge

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Gavel via Wikimedia Commons Image

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has launched an investigation into a New York attorney’s claim that he advised Judge Arthur Engoron in the case against former President Donald Trump.

Attorney Adam Leitman Bailey told WNBC-TV that he had a courthouse conversation with Engoron three weeks before the judge would slap Trump with a $454 million penalty for fraudulently inflating the value of his assets.

New York judges are barred from considering outside opinions in such a way when litigating a case, yet Bailey said he discussed the legal questions at length with the judge.

Judge Engoron’s ruling ordered Trump to pay nearly $355 million, Donald Jr. and Eric to each pay $4 million, and ex-Trump Org chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg to pay $1 million. The order also barred Trump from serving as a corporate officer or a director of a company in New York for three years, and barred his sons for two years. The Trumps did avoid the so-called “corporate death penalty;”

“I actually had the ability to speak to him three weeks ago,” Bailey said in an interview with the station on Feb. 16, just hours before the judge issued his ruling.

“I saw him in the corner [at the courthouse], and I told my client, ‘I need to go,’” he recounted.

“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,” the attorney continued.

He said he “explained to” Engoron that ruling against Trump would have far-reaching implications beyond destroying the former president, including damaging New York’s economy.

If Trump were forced to pay a hefty fine and shut down his business, it would make other companies concerned about similarly being targeted at any time, even when there were no actual damages or victims, as in this case.

Trump’s legal team raised the same points, which Engoron ignored in his verdict.

In a later interview with WNBC, Bailey walked back his claims slightly, saying they “didn’t even mention the word ‘Donald Trump’” during their conversation.

However, the attorney admitted that it was understood exactly what they were discussing.

“Well, obviously, we weren’t talking about the Mets,” Bailey said.

According to the New York State Rules of Judicial Conduct, “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.”

Al Baker, a spokesman for the state’s Office of Court Administration, denied that the judge had broken those rules.

“The decision Justice Engoron issued February 16 was his alone, was deeply considered, and was wholly uninfluenced by this individual,” Baker said in a statement, according to WNBC.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Whether Judge Engeron’s decision “…was his alone, was deeply considered, and was wholly uninfluenced by this individual” is beside the point. Every state’s ethical rules require all judges to avoid the very appearance of impropriety. Engeron obviously did not comply with that rule.

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