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Monday, April 08, 2024

Trump's Meritless Motion to Disqualify the "Hush Money" Judge

My new essay in The Hill explains why Trump’s latest delaying tactic, seeking to recuse the judge in his upcoming hush money trial, is bound to fail. Here is the gist:

Don’t buy Trump’s baseless motion for a new hush money judge

The latest episode in creative obstruction is a meritless last-minute motion to recuse Judge Juan Merchan, who presiding over Trump’s “hush money” case in Manhattan.

The disqualification motion, filed only two weeks before the scheduled beginning of the trial, is based on the political activity of the judge’s adult daughter, Lauren Merchan — the owner of a consulting firm that exclusively serves numerous Democratic Party clients, including “Kamala Harris, Adam Schiff and others.”

Sometimes, the validity of a motion can be best determined by its omissions and elisions. Tellingly, they make almost no mention of the actual New York law of recusal. When they finally get around to the specific legal provisions — totaling only about five pages of discussion — they quote them quite misleadingly.

For example, the motion claims that disqualification is required by a court rule when “the judge knows that a close relative ‘has an interest that could be substantially affected by the proceeding.’” This is a disingenuous misstatement of the rule itself, which limits the relationships mandating recusal to “the judge’s spouse or minor child residing in the judge’s household.” 

You can read the entire essay in The Hill.

Posted by Steve Lubet on April 8, 2024 at 11:10 AM | Permalink


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