Judge Engoron’s Plan to Outfox Donald Trump

The judge in Donald Trump’s fraud trial will try to shape his upcoming judgment to prevent a successful appeal, a law professor said.

Professor Greg Germain of Syracuse University of Law told Newsweek that Judge Arthur Engoron will try to include examples of Trump’s behavior where all the elements of fraud are present, even though the case against him was never very strong.

“I expect that Judge Engoron will select testimony from the trial that would support the elements of fraud, but the evidence of reasonable reliance [on Trump’s financial statements] by the ‘victims’ is very weak,” Germain said.

Donald Trump talks to reporters on January 31, 2024, in Washington, D.C. The judge in Trump’s fraud trial is expected to delivery his ruling in the coming days.

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Engoron already said during the trial that he doesn’t want to give Trump grounds for a successful appeal.

In September, Engoron issued a partial summary judgment in the case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, ruling that Trump and top executives at the Trump Organization had committed fraud. Engoron held that Trump grossly inflated the value of his assets to obtain more favorable terms from lenders and insurers.

Engoron will rule on how much the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination will have to pay in damages, and on six other accusations—including falsifying business records, insurance fraud and conspiracy claims. James is seeking the return of $370 million in profits Trump made.

The trial ended on January 11, when Engoron said he hoped to hand down a ruling by January 31, but that has been delayed. The judgment is now expected early next week.

Germain said that, on appeal, Trump will have to show that the New York attorney general does not have the power to punish him “without showing the traditional elements of fraud: (1) scienter – basically the intent to defraud, (2) false statements of fact rather than opinion or trade puffing, (3) reasonable reliance by the victims, (4) materiality, (5) causation, and (6) damages.

“I think he has a strong argument that when the attorney general seeks to punish for past use, rather than prevent future use, she would have to show all of the traditional elements of fraud.”

Letitia James’ team will argue that, under New York executive order 63.12, which gives the attorney general the power to prosecute fraud, she doesn’t have to show that all six elements are present.

“Judge Engoron ruled in the summary judgment order that, under 63.12, the attorney general does not have to show any of those elements – a showing of falsity is enough,” Germain noted.

Engoron is expected to impose harsh penalties on Trump when he gives his final judgment next week. Trump and the judge clashed frequently during the trial. Engoron fined him twice for breaking a gag order and accused him of “making speeches” from the witness stand.

While testifying, Trump accused Engoron of being among the Democrats who are out to get him before the 2024 presidential election.

Uncommon Knowledge Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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