The Fate of Trump’s Civil Fraud Trial Rests in the Hands of Judge Arthur F. Engoron
Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, has been determined to prove that Donald J. Trump committed fraud. On the other hand, Mr. Trump took the stand to fiercely criticize Ms. James. The courtroom wrangling finally came to a close after 11 weeks of chaos, and now the future of Mr. Trump’s role in his family business lies in the hands of Arthur F. Engoron, the unconventional New York judge presiding over the case. As the decision will be made solely by the judge without a jury, the verdict will determine Mr. Trump’s fate.
Justice Engoron had previously ruled that Mr. Trump had fraudulently inflated his net worth and announced an initial round of punishments. However, this recast the trial as a battle over the severity of the penalty that the former president would face. Ms. James has indicated her intention to seek a fine exceeding the $250 million originally sought and will ask the judge to prohibit Mr. Trump from running a business in the state. This would essentially banish him from the world that made him famous. The judge’s decision is expected to be revealed next month after the closing arguments in court.
“The judge has extraordinary powers to fashion a remedy to curtail and punish the misconduct, meaning bad news for Trump,” said Steven M. Cohen, a former top official in the attorney general’s office who is now a founding member of the Blue Raven LLP law firm and teaches corporation law at New York Law School.
Did Justice Engoron Overstep His Bounds?
However, it is possible that Justice Engoron may have made an error when he issued the initial punishment of Mr. Trump, ordering the dissolution of some of his New York companies. Legal experts and court rulings suggest that the judge may have lacked the authority to take this action. An appeals court has granted Mr. Trump’s request to pause the punishment, indicating that there may be a more thorough assessment of the judge’s decisions throughout the trial. Mr. Trump’s legal team is hoping for a successful appeal.
Alternatively, Justice Engoron may adjust the order himself if convinced by Mr. Trump’s lawyers. This adjustment could take place before the appeals court has a chance to weigh in, using the expected January verdict as an opportunity to change his position.
The Implications of Justice Engoron’s Punishments
Justice Engoron has the power to impose various punishments on Mr. Trump, most notably a significant financial penalty. Additionally, he could enact five-year bans that would prevent Mr. Trump and his company from engaging in commercial real estate deals in New York or seeking loans from state-chartered banks. The judge may also permanently bar Mr. Trump from running a company in New York, effectively removing him from his company’s operations. These punishments would not only restrict Mr. Trump’s business activities but also serve as a detrimental end to his longstanding career as a New York businessman.
The Dissolution of Mr. Trump’s New York Companies
However, Justice Engoron’s initial punishment of dissolving some of Mr. Trump’s New York companies is less likely to hold. The judge’s order canceled a special business certificate that allows these companies to operate using specific names, which can be replaced. The subsequent reference to the “dissolution of the canceled LLCs” suggests a termination of the actual Trump companies that own or manage his assets. This severe punishment goes beyond what Ms. James had sought and may not align with New York law, as dissolution typically requires the consent of a member of the LLC.
“He’s going beyond what the statute seems to allow,” said David W. Lowden, a corporate law expert.
Read More of this Story at www.nytimes.com – 2023-12-14 10:31:26
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