Judge denies Donald Trump’s last-minute attempt to delay hush money trial in New York

Written by on April 8, 2024

Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — A judge has denied former President Donald Trump’s last-minute attempt Monday to delay his criminal trial in New York and move the case out of Manhattan.

Judge Lizbeth Gonzalez denied it without explanation in a one-sentence order.

Trump’s attorneys asked an intermediary appellate court to stay the April 15 trial date, arguing overwhelming pretrial publicity made it impossible to find a fair and impartial jury even with a rigorous jury selection process.

“In terms of prejudicial pretrial publicity in this county, this case stands alone,” defense attorney Emil Bove said, arguing there had not been a case with so much attention since the 1999 police killing of Amadou Diallo.

In a brief argument before the Appellate Division First Department, the defense suggested that too many people in Manhattan have a negative opinion of Trump.

“When bias against the defendant is this engrained, has taken root to this extent, voir dire cannot be trusted to clear that up,” Bove said. “Jury selection cannot proceed in a fair manner next week in this county.”

A prosecutor with the Manhattan district attorney’s office said there’s nothing to suggest potential jurors in Manhattan were “uniquely susceptible” to negative pretrial publicity since Trump is a national, even global, figure.

“The idea of transferring venue here is misguided,” the prosecutor, Steven Wu, said. “The mere fact that they know about this case is not an indication of bias.”

Prosecutors also said Trump himself – either through social media postings, campaign speeches or courthouse remarks – was responsible for generating much of the publicity associated with the case charging him with falsifying business records to cover the true purpose of a hush payment to a porn actress.

“This is the defendant coming into this argument with unclean hands,” Wu said.

Trump’s attorneys are expected to return to the appellate division Tuesday in an attempt to loosen restrictions on what the former president can say about the people associated with his hush-money case.

The trial judge, Juan Merchan, imposed a limited gag order that stops Trump from speaking out about prosecutors, judicial staff, witnesses and others. Merchan recently expanded the order to cover his family and the family of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Trump is fighting the gag order under a provision of New York State law that allows a defendant to challenge an administrative decision. Trump is not personally suing the judge, but the case is captioned Trump v Merchan.

There is no time set as yet for oral arguments on Tuesday.

Trump is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records after being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has denied all wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty last April.

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