This last week saw serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) spend three days in a Manhattan courthouse for the fraud trial brought against him by New York attorney general Letitia James. Since this is a civil case, his presence is not required so I was not sure why he attended instead of playing golf. It may be that since this case deals with his money and properties and where he risks losing much or all of it, the very things that are so dear to is heart, he felt obliged to pay close attention to what was said, though since he has the attention span of a goldfish, it is not clear how much of the proceedings he absorbed.
During the breaks in the court hearings, he would come out and rant to the media about the usual things, that he is being treated so unfairly. But he also complained that he would rather have been in Iowa campaigning and implied that he could not because he had to be in court. This is obviously not true and his lawyers must have told him that so he was clearly lying, though as with so many of his lies, it is hard to see what purpose the lies serve other than give him one more thing to complain about.
He also complained that he was suffering a gross miscarriage of justice because he was facing a bench trial and not a trial by jury. But a defendant is always entitled to a jury trial but must request one by checking off a box when filing the paperwork. His lawyers had not done so. So SSAT’s complaint should be directed at his lawyers and not the court. Commentators have ridiculed SSAT’s lawyers for making such a gross error but I don’t buy that it was a mistake. These are not rookie lawyers. Also, choosing whether to have a bench trial or a jury trial is an important part of defense strategy and they would have debated the pros and cons extensively. So the idea that the lawyers overlooked that when filing does not make sense. So why is SSAT complaining about this?
My theory is, assuming that not asking for a jury trial deliberate and not a mistake, that the defense lawyers told him that their case is weak and that they will likely lose it, because a civil trial in New York does not require a unanimous verdict, but only five-sixths. They have to hope to win on appeal. Also SSAT may have felt that if and when he loses the case, it will be easier to argue that the judge was biased rather than a jury, though he could always say that he could never get an impartial jury in New York City.
But after choosing a bench trial, SSAT has continued to run off at the mouth attacking the judge and the prosecutors. But he went too far when he attacked the judge’s law clerk and suggested, without any evidence of course, that she was Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer’s girlfriend. The judge then slapped a limited gag order on him, prohibiting him from making any personal attacks on members of his staff.
A day after a New York judge issued a limited gag order against Donald Trump for peddling false claims about his clerk outside the courtroom, the former president began to grumble about his civil bank fraud case inside the courtroom as the third day of the non-jury trial got underway Wednesday.
According to The Daily Beast, Trump — whose real estate empire received what legal experts called the “corporate death penalty” in a summary judgment in the case last week — began to complain and angrily folded his arms while staring at New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron after the judge noted that they could forgo typical courtroom formalities in the absence of a jury.
Trump then turned to his left to defense lawyer Alina Habba to groan what the outlet could discern as “no jury!”, threw up his arms and shook his head before breathing out an annoyed sigh and slumping forward in his seat. Before the trial started Wednesday, those complaints received a louder voice on social media where he wrote, “I am not even entitled, under any circumstances, to a JURY. This Witch Hunt cannot be allowed to continue. It is Election Interference and the start of Communism right here in America!”
“I can’t wait to see how long the judge puts up with Trump’s steady stream of kvetching today,” Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor, added. “Is Trump trying to get excluded from the courtroom so he has both an excuse to stop attending the trial and another bogus thing to complain about to his cultmembers?”
It may be that SSAT’s lawyers persuaded him to not attend the rest of the proceedings because of fears that he would say or do something that violates the gag order or otherwise angers the judge and be issued sanctions.