Claiming Judicial Bias, Trump Requests Mistrial in Civil Fraud Case

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Former President Donald Trump wants a mistrial in the ongoing civil fraud case over his property valuations, claiming the judge had bias against him.

Lawyers for Trump filed the mistrial documents on Wednesday claiming that New York State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron posted disparaging articles about the former president in a newsletter to an alumni association and allowed his law clerk to intervene in the proceedings to a large degree. 

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Media reports are calling the attempt a Hail Mary attempt by the Trump Organization to get the case thrown out.

“Given the demonstrable partisan bias present on the bench at trial, the only way to maintain public confidence in a truly independent and impartial judiciary and the rule of law is to bring these proceedings to an immediate halt,” Trump’s lawyers wrote, according to Reuters.

The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Engoron has already issued a gag order against the Trump Organization over remarks made toward the law clerk. The judge has fined Trump a total of $15,000 for twice violating the gag order.

In September, Engoron ruled that the Trump Organization committed fraud by inflating the value of properties in its portfolio.

If the trial does not go in Trump’s favor, the Trump Organization would be forced to pay $250 million and dissolve General Business Law (GBL) 130 certificates associated with properties in New York state. Engoron has asked parties to name possible receivers who would be responsible for liquidating those assets.

Properties that have been implicated in the trial include 40 Wall Street. Even though the LLC tied to the building does not have a GBL 130 certificate, the $160 million loan tied to the building was transferred to special servicer, Rialto Capital.

The Appellate Division has stepped in and issued a stay on the order for a receiver to be appointed for 40 Wall on the basis that the business certificate does not qualify it for that.

New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Trump of listing 40 Wall Street as worth $524 million in 2011, then increasing it to $530 million over the next two years. A “series of bank-ordered appraisals” found the property was worth $200 million in August 2010 and $220 million in November 2021.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.