(VitalNews.org) – New York state’s highest court has denied Donald Trump’s request for an expedited review of the gag order imposed on him during his $250 million civil fraud trial. The gag order, issued originally by trial Judge Arthur Engoron on October 3 and upheld by a further panel of state judges after its temporary removal, prevents the former President and his team from publicly discussing court staff and any communications made within the court room.
This came after Trump and his team made public comments about the bias they perceived to be held by the Democrat supporting Engoron and his trial clerk. Following these comments, the trial clerk received a large number of negative messages via telephone, email, and social media.
The trial focuses on allegations made by New York Attorney General Letitia James that Trump and members of his family had overstated the value of various assets when applying for loans, thereby managing to fraudulently gain more favorable deals. Trump is due to take to the stand again on December 11, and had been keen to have the gag order lifted before then. His legal team has expressed concerns that by silencing him, the court will hamper his ability to properly defend himself against the “partisan bias” displayed by the bench.
In writing the emergency application to appeal the gag order, Trump’s lawyers reiterated their previous complaints with regard to the order, namely that their client’s free speech rights are being unfairly infringed upon, and that a civil defendant ought to be able to critique the court “without fear of reprisal”. They also noted that the order could have the effect of silencing the “political speech of the leading Presidential candidate” in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.
Judge David Friedman had previously lifted Judge Engoron’s gag order, but this reversal was dismissed by a panel of appellate judges. Speaking at the scheduling meeting on Monday December 4 after Trump’s team had requested Judge Friedman allow them a further chance to appeal, court attorney Lauren Holmes said that a single judge cannot overturn a panel’s decision. Despite this, there is still the opportunity for Trump and his team to appeal, although the process will take longer than they had hoped, with a new deadline of December 11 to submit the necessary paperwork to the First Department.
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