Trump appeals New York judge’s gag order and local ruling in hush money case

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NEW YORK – Donald Trump’s legal team on Monday sought to reverse a gag order issued by the judge overseeing the former president’s criminal hush money case and a denial of Trump’s request to move the trial from Manhattan, a largely liberal part of the state.

The appeals include one that names New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchán as a defendant, according to court records. They were filed a week before jury selection for the trial is expected to begin April 15.

At an emergency conference Monday afternoon, Appeals Judge Lizbeth Gonzalez heard arguments from Trump lawyer Emil Bove about a recent survey of Manhattan residents commissioned by the defense. Of those surveyed, 61 percent said they believed Trump was guilty in the hush money case, according to the lawyer.

Bove asked that the trial be suspended.

“Our point is that jury selection cannot be done fairly next week in this county,” Bove said.

Steven Wu, an attorney for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, argued that selecting a fair jury is possible even among people who have preconceived notions about the case if they say they can be fair and evaluate the facts.

Wu also said Trump has been seeking much of the media coverage that the defense now claims has poisoned the jury.

“This is the defendant coming into this discussion with dirty hands because the publicity is largely his own,” Wu said.

Court documents were not immediately publicly available Monday, but another separate set of filings focuses on Merchan’s limited gag order protecting people involved in the case and their family members, according to a person with knowledge of the proceedings.

Arguments on the gag order issue are expected to be heard by an emergency appeals judge on Tuesday.

The trial was supposed to have started on March 25, but Merchan postponed it until April 15 after federal prosecutors recently turned over about 100,000 pages of records to the defense.

The former president, the likely Republican presidential candidate, has openly criticized people, including the judge’s daughter, in the campaign trial and on social media.

In his trial scheduled to begin April 15, Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. The payment was allegedly to keep her quiet. about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump years before.

Merchan issued a limited gag order against Trump on March 26, a day after the final pretrial conference in the case. His order prohibited Trump from speaking publicly about several players in the case, including court staff, witnesses and some prosecutors or their families.

The limited gag order did not include Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the judge or her family members, but concerns grew after Trump continued to discuss Merchan’s adult daughter on social media.

Merchan expanded the order on April 1 to include protections for Bragg’s family members and his own, saying Trump’s “pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to their cases serves no legitimate purpose.”

“It simply injects fear into those assigned or called to participate in the process, that not only they, but also their family members are ‘fair targets’ for [Trump’s] vitriol,” Merchan’s order read.

The judge also warned that Trump’s behavior could lead to a ruling that would prevent him from having access to jurors’ names, which will be available to the parties but not made public.

Two days after the order was extended, Trump published articles by conservative bloggers discussing the judge and his daughter, who runs a political marketing and fundraising company that serves Democratic candidates, including Biden’s campaign and the vice president. Harris.

Trump and his defenders have argued that the judge cannot be fair because of his close ties to someone whose profession revolves around supporting Democratic campaigns.

In August, the defense lost a motion to have Merchan recuse herself from the case based on her daughter’s work and because of a pair of small donations the judge apparently made to the Biden campaign and a progressive organization. Merchan gave $15 to Biden in 2020 and made two $10 donations to Democratic groups.

Prosecutors say Trump’s reimbursements to his former attorney Michael Cohen were illegally documented as legal fees even though they were made to support Trump’s campaign.

Trump has been indicted in three other jurisdictions with charges pending in each.

In DC, Trump faces charges of attempting to obstruct the election before the January 6th insurrection. In Georgia he is accused in a state-level case of trying to undo the results of the 2020 election. He also has a federal case in Florida for alleged violations of the Espionage Act by illegally retaining classified government documents after leaving office. There he faces additional charges of obstructing the government’s efforts to recover them.

He has pleaded not guilty to the 88 charges he faces.

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