Former President Donald Trump finds himself embroiled in a high-stakes $250 million civil fraud trial, with legal expert Michael Conway offering a cautious appraisal of New York Judge Arthur Engoron’s language and conduct during the proceedings as reported in an article by the Conservative Brief on Monday, November 27, 2023.
Conway’s insights, shared in a column for MSNBC, draw attention to the strategic parallels between this trial and the infamous “Chicago 7” case.
He notes a pattern where Trump, akin to the defendants in the historical trial, appears to be deliberately provoking the judge, in this case, Engoron.
A critical concern raised by Conway revolves around the clashes between Engoron and Trump’s legal team.
Engoron has not held back in using strong language to reject Trump’s legal positions, describing them as “pure sophistry,” “risible,” and “bogus arguments” in his summary judgment opinion.
Moreover, Engoron imposed sanctions on five Trump attorneys for what he deemed “borderline frivolous” arguments in their legal briefs, each facing penalties of $7,500.
Conway underlines the risk associated with such strong language, suggesting that if perceived as unjustified, it might provide grounds for an appellate court to disagree with the judge’s assessment and potentially overturn his decision.
Engoron’s combative demeanor during the trial is not confined to his interactions with Trump’s legal team but also extends to the former president himself.
Conway highlights instances where Engoron clashed with both Trump’s legal team and Trump personally during his testimony.
The legal expert asserts that the use of profanity by the judge may be exploited in an appeal, potentially undermining the credibility of the trial.
In New York, Engoron has not shied away from expressing his skepticism towards Trump’s legal positions.
Conway emphasizes that while harsh language is acceptable if justified, Engoron’s frequent use of strident terms like “pure sophistry,” “risible,” “bogus arguments,” and “egregious” might be a double-edged sword.
While it conveys the judge’s strong stance, it also risks providing ammunition to Trump’s legal team, who could argue that such language demonstrates judicial bias.
The article sheds light on Engoron’s handling of a mistrial request from Trump’s legal team, where they claimed an “appearance of bias.”
The motion pointed to Engoron’s involvement in a high school newsletter and questioned the political contributions of his chief law clerk, Allison Greenfield.
Engoron staunchly defended both himself and Greenfield, asserting that his duties with the newsletter did not compromise his ability to preside fairly over the case.
He deemed the mistrial request “utterly without merit” and emphasized the futility of moving forward with a full briefing schedule.
Conway’s concerns extend to what he perceives as potential overreactions by Engoron in response to complaints from Trump’s lawyers.
He urges the judge to take all necessary steps to prevent an appellate court from overturning his decision, emphasizing that it’s crucial not to react impulsively to Trump’s provocative statements or his legal team’s baiting and provocation.
As the trial unfolds, the dynamics between Engoron and Trump’s legal team, as well as the judge’s language and conduct, will continue to be closely scrutinized.
The article underscores the delicate balance that Engoron must maintain to ensure a fair trial while avoiding actions that might be seized upon as evidence of bias in potential appeals.
The legal proceedings involving a former president add an extra layer of complexity, making it imperative for the judge to navigate the case judiciously and with the utmost care.