An appeals court Thursday rejected Donald Trump’s bid to delay a civil trial in a lawsuit brought by New York’s attorney general, allowing the case to proceed days after a judge ruled the former president committed years of fraud and stripped him of some companies as punishment.
The decision by the state’s intermediate appellate court clears the way for Judge Arthur Engoron to preside over a non-jury trial starting Oct. 2 in Manhattan in New York Attorney General Letitia James' civil lawsuit.
Trump is listed among dozens of possible witnesses, setting up a potential courtroom showdown with the judge. The fraud ruling Tuesday threatens to upend his real estate empire and force him to give up prized New York properties such as Trump Tower, a Wall Street office building, golf courses and a suburban estate.
Trump has denied wrongdoing, arguing that some of his assets are worth far more than what’s listed on annual financial statements that Engoron said he used to secure loans and make deals. Trump has argued that the statements have disclaimers that absolve him of liability. His lawyers have said they would appeal.
Messages seeking comment were left Thursday with Trump’s lawyers and James' office.
In New York "these cases take many years to get to trial," Trump wrote Wednesday in a post on his Truth Social platform that appeared to conflate several of his legal foes. "My Political Witch Hunt case is actually scheduled to start on Monday. Nobody can believe it? This is a 'Railroading' job, pushed hard by the Radical Left DOJ for purposing Election Interference. A very SAD time for New York State, and America!"
Trump’s lawyers had sought the trial delay prior to Engoron's ruling, alleging he abused his authority and hindered their preparations by failing to comply with a June appeals court order that he narrow the scope of the trial based on the statute of limitations.
They filed a lawsuit against Engoron on Sept. 14 under a provision of state law known as Article 78, which allows people to challenge some judicial authority, and asked that the trial be postponed until that matter was resolved.
An appeals court judge, David Friedman, granted an interim stay of the trial while the full appeals court considered the lawsuit on an expedited basis. Thursday’s ruling lifted the stay, allowing the trial to proceed as scheduled. Through a court lawyer, Engoron declined to participate in the appeals court process.
Engoron ruled Tuesday that Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, defrauded banks, insurers and others with annual financial statements that massively overvalued his assets and exaggerated his wealth. Engoron ordered some of Trump’s companies removed from his control and dissolved. James alleges Trump boosted his net worth by as much as $3.6 billion.
After the ruling, Trump's lawyers again urged the appeals court to delay the trial.
They argued in court papers that Engoron showed in his 35-page decision that he was intent on defying the appeals court by ignoring the statute of limitations issue. Engoron refused to dismiss any claims and based his fraud ruling partly on stale allegations that should've been thrown out, Trump lawyer Clifford Robert said.
Engoron's fraud ruling, in a phase of the case known as summary judgment, resolved the key claim in James’ lawsuit, but six others remain. They include allegations of conspiracy, falsifying business records and insurance fraud. The judge will also decide on James’ request for $250 million in penalties.
James’ office argued Trump's lawsuit against Engoron was a "brazen and meritless attempt" to usurp his authority and that any delay “would likely wreak havoc on the trial schedule” and could cause conflicts with Trump’s four pending criminal cases.
The civil trial is the culmination of a yearslong investigation by James’ office that saw Trump questioned under oath and millions of pages of documents change hands. Engoron has said it could take three months.
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