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High-profile New York lawyer says he tried to advise judge in Trump civil fraud case

Judge Arthur Engoron, the presiding judge in the Donald Trump civil fraud trial, is now under investigation after allegations surfaced that he held a private conversation with real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey just weeks before issuing a $454 million fine against Trump. The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct is probing whether Engoron improperly considered Bailey’s unsolicited advice during their courthouse interaction.

Bailey claimed in a television interview that he approached Engoron to share his perspective on a key legal issue related to the trial. He insisted that his intent was to help the judge understand the greater implications of the harsh ruling against Trump, particularly for New York’s economy. However, such conversations are prohibited under New York’s judicial conduct rules unless all parties are notified and given a chance to respond.

In an on-camera interview with NBC New York back in February 16, the day the judge’s decision was expected, Bailey explained, “I actually had the ability to speak to him three weeks ago,” noting, “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 stated he “explained to him” that the fraud statute central to the case wasn’t meant to be used to shut down a major company, especially in situations lacking clear victims. He said that such a ruling could negatively impact New York’s economy. Engoron had dismissed a similar argument raised in court by the Trump team. “He had a lot of questions, you know, about certain cases. We went over it,” Bailey added.

Judge Engoron, through a spokesperson, denied that Bailey influenced his decision.

Al Baker, spokesperson for the New York State Office of Court Administration, clarified in a written statement: “No ex parte conversation concerning this matter occurred between Justice Engoron and Mr. Bailey or any other person. The decision Justice Engoron issued on February 16 was his alone, was deeply considered, and was wholly uninfluenced by this individual.”

Ex parte communication, or private dialogue between a judge and one party in a case, is explicitly forbidden unless there is transparency. Several experts consulted by NBC New York saying that the rules are designed not only to prevent undue influence but also to eliminate any appearance of such influence.

Retired Presiding New York Appellate Justice Alan Scheinkman expressed his skepticism about Bailey’s account but noted that if true, Engoron should have informed both parties involved in the significant Trump civil fraud case. He explained, “If there’s any substantive dialogue about the law in a pending case, it should be disclosed.”

Bailey, who has a history of disciplinary issues, maintained that the conversation did not directly impact the trial and that no names were mentioned. However, the vague nature of the dialogue leaves questions about impartiality. In 2019, Bailey had his law license suspended after telling a party in a case to “just kill themselves,” among other misconduct according to the outlet.

Ben Collis is a freelance journalist for the Trending Politico covering trending human interest/social media stories and the reactions real people have to them. He always seeks to incorporate evidence-based studies, current events, and facts pertinent to these stories to create your not-so-average viral post.
Ben Collis
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