Judge Engoron reportedly under investigation for alleged violation of judicial conduct code in Trump case

 May 15, 2024

During and after his civil fraud case, former President Donald Trump often and repeatedly accused presiding Judge Arthur Engoron of being corrupt and unethical, and now there may be some additional new evidence to support those claims.

According to unnamed sources, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct is now investigating allegations that Engoron accepted unsolicited advice on the case from a local real estate attorney just a few weeks before his final ruling was issued, Newsweek reported.

If those allegations are true, it would mean that Engoron violated a prohibition within the state's rules on judicial conduct against so-called "ex parte" communications about a case with outsiders who are otherwise uninvolved in the matter.

Local attorney claims he spoke with judge about Trump case

WNBC reported last week that high-profile Manhattan real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey, who once had his law license temporarily suspended amid allegations of misconduct, revealed in an on-air interview that he had spoken directly with Judge Engoron about former President Trump's civil fraud case about three weeks before the trial ended.

On Feb. 16, the same day Engoron issued his final ruling against Trump, Bailey provided commentary to WNBC on the trial and claimed of the judge, "I actually had the ability to speak to him three weeks ago. I saw him in the corner [at the courthouse] and I told my client, 'I need to go.' And I walked over and we started talking … I wanted him to know what I think and why … I really want him to get it right."

Bailey, who said he knew the judge from having appeared in his court "hundreds of times" in the past, further revealed how he "explained to him" how the fraud statute at issue was supposed to work, in his view, and added that Engoron "had a lot of questions, you know, about certain cases. We went over it."

Apparent violation of the judicial conduct code

According to WNBC, what Bailey claimed about his alleged interaction with Judge Engoron appears to violate a provision within the New York State Rules of Judicial Conduct -- specifically Section 100.3(B)(6), which states: "A judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers concerning a pending or impending proceeding."

There are a couple of narrow exceptions to that rule, such as if the outsider communications are for "scheduling or administrative purposes" or to "obtain the advice of a disinterested expert on the law," provided those communications don't have a "substantial" impact on the case, such as providing an advantage to one side over another, and as long as the judge properly notifies the involved parties and allows them to respond -- which doesn't appear to be what happened here.

The outlet reported that, per sources said to be "familiar with the matter," the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct is now looking into the allegations surrounding Bailey's on-air admission. Pressed for comment, Commission Administrator Robert Tembeckjian cited confidentiality requirements in declining to confirm or deny the reported investigation.

Attorney and spokesman for judge insist no wrongdoing occurred

As for Bailey, WNBC noted that he insisted in a follow-up on-air interview that neither he nor the judge had done anything wrong, and claimed, "We didn't even mention the word Donald Trump."

Yet, he seemingly contradicted himself moments later when asked about whether Engoron knew they were talking about the Trump case, to which Bailey replied, "Well, obviously we weren't talking about the Mets."

At the time of WNBC's report, a spokesman for New York State's Office of Court Administration, Al Baker, said in a statement, "No ex parte conversation concerning this matter occurred between Justice Engoron and Mr. Bailey or any other person. The decision Justice Engoron issued February 16 was his alone, was deeply considered, and was wholly uninfluenced by this individual."

The allegations "call into question the integrity of the entire case"

Newsweek reported, however, that Trump's attorney Chris Kise isn't buying that, and told the outlet, "These serious allegations of a blatant breach of the judicial conduct code, if true, call into question the integrity of the entire case and further undermine public confidence in a New York legal system already the subject of international ridicule."

"Moreover, if true, there is simply no reason to believe this was an isolated incident," he added. "Any judge willing to engage in this sort of exchange and willing to simply disregard clear rules of conduct would likely have done so repeatedly over the long course of the case."

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
© 2015 - 2024 Conservative Institute. All Rights Reserved.