Donald Trump's Civil Fraud Trial Commences Without a Jury As His Legal Team Opts For A Bench Trial
Attorney General Letitia James is requesting at least $250 million in fines and a lifetime ban on former President Donald Trump and his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, from operating businesses in New York. James has also sought a five-year ban on the Trump Organization from the commercial real estate market in the ongoing civil fraud case, the trial of which began on Monday. What stands out about this case is that Trump has declined the chance to select a jury for his trial.
Therefore, Justice Engoron will now decide the fate of his New York businesses. As per Forbes, Trump said Monday afternoon while exiting the courthouse, "I think it's very unfair I don't have a jury,” despite the fact that his attorneys chose to go forth with a bench trial.
According to online court documents, Trump's legal team forfeited his right to a jury trial on his behalf earlier this year. Additionally, on Monday, Trump incorrectly claimed that "we're not entitled to a jury, which is pretty unusual in the United States of America." After all, Trump had the option of going forward with a jury, but his attorneys opted for a bench trial instead, which means the judge will make the final ruling in the case.
Despite not being compelled to, Trump showed up in person, which attracted much media attention. Moreover, as per the previously mentioned Forbes report, the Republican front-runner has been repeatedly criticizing the legal trial and even called it a 'sham.' As per the BBC, Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the case, determined that Trump and his company were liable for fraud before the trial began. He ruled last week that Trump and the Trump Organization had understated the worth of the corporation's assets, and he also ordered the cancellation of some of Trump's business certificates.
On the first day of the trial, Christopher Kise, Trump's primary attorney, claimed that the variations in the assets' declared values had 'no nefarious intent' and instead were merely indicative of 'change in a complex, sophisticated real estate development corporation,' the New York Times reported. Kise added: “Banks and insurers know that the statements are estimates; they are not designed to be absolutes.” Trump also launched a flurry of disparaging remarks about James and the judge, Arthur F. Engoron, outside the courtroom. He referred to the judge as 'rogue' and James as 'a terrible person,' even joking about the possibility that they were offenders.
“Year after year, loan after loan, defendants misrepresented Trump’s net worth,” Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for James, stated during the opening statements. "Exaggerating for a television audience or Forbes Magazine’s list of the richest people is one thing, Wallace continued, but “you cannot do it while conducting business in the state of New York.”
The trial, which is anticipated to go on for more than a month and feature testimony from the business tycoon, takes place at the same time as his most recent bid for the White House. After James' civil lawsuit is concluded, Trump will go through four criminal trials covering various other issues.
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