NY appellate judge rejects Trump's request for delay and change of venue in upcoming 'hush money' trial

 April 9, 2024

A recurring legal strategy employed by former President Donald Trump, with some degree of success, is to seek indefinite delays in the several criminal and civil trials against him, and that includes the "hush money" case in New York.

Unfortunately for Trump, a New York appellate judge on Monday denied his motion to indefinitely delay that trial while moving the case to a different venue in the state, according to The New York Times.

The judge rejected the arguments from Trump's attorneys during an emergency hearing that the excessive amount of "prejudicial pre-trial publicity" and negative media coverage had rendered it impossible to find an unbiased jury in Manhattan.

Trump argues for delay and change of venue

According to The Times, former President Trump's attorneys cited polling they'd conducted of New York residents which showed that the case "stands alone" in terms of negative coverage and publicity, including that a majority of potential jurors already believed that Trump was guilty of the allegations against him.

The Associated Press reported that Trump's attorneys pointed to the media's coverage of his other recent cases in New York City, including his civil fraud trial and a civil defamation trial, and insisted that "Jury selection cannot proceed in a fair manner."

Trump's team also made note of a case a quarter of a century ago in which four NYPD officers were charged with killing a migrant suspect and how, because of the great "public clamor" against the officers, the case was moved from the Bronx to the capital city of Albany, where they were ultimately acquitted.

Prosecutors blame Trump for excessive media coverage of impending trial

Of course, former President Trump's motion for a delay and change of venue just a week before the criminal trial is set to begin in Manhattan on April 15 was opposed by prosecutors who insisted that potential jurors in the borough would be capable of setting aside any possible bias to be fair and impartial during the trial, according to The Times.

Courthouse News reported that prosecutor Steven Wu objected that it was "literally the worst time to bring this application" for a change of venue just a week before the jury selection process was set to begin and dismissed Trump's claims that the media coverage of this and other cases had prejudiced potential jurors against him.

Wu said the negative articles cited by Trump's team were "merely describing this case" in a neutral fashion and asserted, "This is not the type of coverage that is prejudicial … The mere fact that jurors know about this case is not an indication of bias. The fact that they voted against defendant is not an indication of bias."

Incredibly, Wu further sought to blame Trump himself as having "been responsible for stoking that publicity" by way of his "countless media appearances talking about the facts of this case, the witnesses, and so on," per the AP.

Motion denied

According to The Times, it only took about 45 minutes after Monday's hearing concluded for the appellate judge, Associate Justice Lizbeth Gonzalez, to rule against former President Trump's motion for a delay and change of venue.

"Defendant’s application for a stay of trial … pending the determination of defendant’s motion for change of venue, is denied," the judge wrote, according to Fox News.

Meanwhile, Trump also separately filed an emergency appeal in the form of a lawsuit against presiding Judge Juan Merchan over the gag order he imposed on the former president in the upcoming Manhattan trial -- a move that also would likely cause a delay if approved by an appellate judge.

Per Courthouse News, a hearing on that matter will be held on Tuesday in the same courthouse. In addition to his opposition to the gag order, Trump has also reiterated his request that Judge Merchan be recused from the case due to the "conflict of interest" posed by Merchan's partisan activist daughter, who works for a consulting firm that aids numerous prominent Democratic politicians and progressive groups.

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