Judge Engoron Faces Pressure To Recuse Amid Alleged Ethics Violation

Legal representatives for former President Donald Trump are demanding that New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron recuse himself from Trump’s case. This follows revelations of an ongoing investigation by the state Commission on Judicial Conduct into Engoron’s conversation with real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey before ruling on Trump’s $454 million penalty.

Alina Habba, one of Trump’s lawyers, stressed the importance of judicial impartiality, stating, “The New York Code of Judicial Conduct exists to ensure that litigants are afforded a fair and impartial trial.” She argued that Engoron’s discussion with Bailey about the case’s merits compromised his ability to be impartial.

Bailey, who disclosed his conversation with Engoron, believed the discussion was “off the record” and focused solely on a previously issued summary judgment. He stated, “I only discussed with the Judge the September Summary Judgment decision,” which found Trump and associates liable for fraud. Bailey added, “I did not think that speaking to Judge Engoron about my own personal views of his already published decision was wrong in any way.”

Trump’s legal team contends that Bailey’s public remarks suggest undue influence on the judge, necessitating his recusal. The motion filed by Trump’s lawyers emphasized, “This Court has been publicly accused of engaging in prohibited communications regarding the merits of this case, in clear violation of the Code and this Court’s solemn oath.”

The team underscored that the Commission’s investigation into these allegations makes Engoron’s recusal essential to preserve judicial integrity. They argued, “The gravity of these public allegations of potential misconduct is underscored by the fact that this Court… is also now apparently under investigation by the Commission on Judicial Conduct.”

The filing concluded that the appearance of impropriety due to Bailey’s communication with Engoron, combined with the ongoing investigation, undermines the judge’s impartiality.

“Where, as here, this Court’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned under the circumstances, it must recuse,” the motion stated, highlighting the need to maintain public trust in the judicial system.

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