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HomeWorld newsTrump seeks to appeal reinstated gag orders in New York civil fraud...

Trump seeks to appeal reinstated gag orders in New York civil fraud case

Former US President Donald Trump is seeking permission to appeal a decision reinstating gag orders in his New York civil fraud case to the state’s highest court, a court filing showed on Monday.

Justice Arthur Engoron imposed a gag order on Trump on October 3 barring him from speaking publicly about court staff.

Engoron acted after Trump shared on social media a photo of the judge’s top law clerk posing with US Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, and falsely called her Schumer’s girlfriend. The post left the court “inundated” with hundreds of threats made by Trump supporters, Engoron said in a court filing.

Engoron later restricted Trump’s lawyers statements about his staff in a separate order.

Judge Arthur F Engoron at the Supreme Court in Manhattan, New York. Photo: Reuters

An appeal court judge temporarily paused the gag orders on November 16, but they were reinstated by a mid-level state appeal court last Thursday.

Engoron already has fined Trump US$15,000 for twice violating the gag order on him, promising steeper penalties for future violations possibly including imprisonment.

Trump, the front runner for the 2024 Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 US election, is accused in the case of unlawfully overstating his net worth by billions of dollars to dupe lenders and insurers. The trial has focused on damages because Engoron already found that Trump’s financial statements were fraudulent.

In Monday’s filing, Trump lawyer Clifford Robert asked the mid-level appeal court, known as the Appellate Division, to allow Trump to appeal its reinstatement of the orders to the Albany-based Court of Appeals.

Robert said the orders violated the US and New York state Constitutions by restricting Trump’s “First Amendment right to highlight serious concerns raised by the public and partisan activities of Justice Engoron’s Principal Law Clerk during an ongoing bench trial.”

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A First Department judge on Monday denied Trump’s request for permission to appeal the orders on an expedited basis. Justice Sallie Manzanet-Daniels gave the office of state Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case against Trump and his family real estate company, until December 11 to respond to Trump’s request to appeal.

A spokesperson for the office declined to comment.

James is seeking US$250 million in penalties, and wants Trump banned from New York state property business.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and has accused James, a Democrat, of political bias against him.

Trump is under a similar gag order in a federal criminal case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith in which the former president is accused of unlawful actions in seeking to overturn his loss in the 2020 US election. In all, Trump faces four federal and state criminal indictments. He has pleaded not guilty in all of those cases.

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