In a civil fraud trial in New York, lawyers representing Donald Trump and his family have requested a mistrial. They claim that they have been treated unfairly by the judge and his law clerk, who they believe is a partisan operative. The mistrial motion was filed after the attorney general's office finished presenting their case, which accuses the Trumps and their company of illegally misrepresenting their finances. Trump's defense team is expected to continue presenting their case for the next month.
The motion specifically targets Allison Greenfield, the principal law clerk working for New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron. Trump's lawyers argue that Greenfield has been given unprecedented and inappropriate latitude in the case, and they point to her social media posts and attendance at Democratic party events as evidence of a bias against Trump. They argue that the appearance of "co-judging" is evident and that a staff member should not have a direct role in presiding over the trial.
Engoron has stated that he has the right to consult with his staff as he sees fit. Greenfield rarely speaks aloud in court, and the content of her conversations with Engoron is not referenced in the filings. The mistrial motion was filed while Trump's second defense expert was on the stand, and it has not been remarked upon during the proceedings.
The motion also criticizes the limited gag order issued by Engoron, which forbids Trump and his attorneys from attacking Greenfield and other staff members online or in spoken form. Engoron issued the order due to threatening communications received after Trump's previous attacks on Greenfield.
The mistrial motion is supported by a filing from David Demarest, a former civil court judge in upstate New York. Demarest lists criticisms of Engoron's conduct, including allowing his law clerk to preside on the bench with him and posting articles about his own decisions in the case on an alumni newsletter.
The attorney general's office seeks penalties of over $250 million in allegedly ill-gotten gains from the Trump Organization and its co-defendants. Engoron has already made a summary judgment ruling largely in favor of the attorney general. The mistrial motion will be ruled on by Engoron, and if denied, Trump's lawyers can appeal to an appeals court.