MAINSTREAM MEDIA HAS NOW VALIDATED my weekend post urging Trump lawyers to move for recusal of assigned judge, Juan Merchan, and change of venue to an upstate court removed from the politically charged atmosphere of lower Manhattan. As the world knows, our former president is being prosecuted there on a felony indictment.
Added justification for a challenge to this indictment now exists on due process grounds with a gag order predicted to occur early in the process. Such a sweeping order may be common in other cases, but this one could fatally undermine Trump’s chances of election in 2024.
How can a candidate be burdened by such a draconian imposition which will foreclose public statements inextricably related to a highly flawed criminal case? This presidential candidate will no longer be speech-making with open liberties but under risk of contempt and incarceration prior to any jury verdict.
Donald Trump will now be under the supervision of the New York court system, one that is additionally flawed from a structural standpoint. Indeed, the state bar condemned its antiquated, 11-trial court system in a 2017 report advocating a constitutional convention. Like the case itself, such an order would be unprecedented while corroborating a widespread belief that this whole thing was premeditated.
The general public is presumably unaware along with this defendant that Judge Merchan was appointed as a family court judge in 2006 only ten years after being licensed as an attorney who practiced entirely in prosecution offices. As part of this court structure, he was assigned to his current “acting” position as a state Supreme Court judge in 2009. This enabled him to deal with greater issues than the limited jurisdiction of his appointment would allow.
An aggrieved parent and civil rights attorney, I was similarly victimized as a public figure during a horrific ordeal related to a conscientious stand I took against the exploitation of parents and children in New York’s courts. A gag order was imposed by a judge who was later removed from my family court case, one that was vacated after I challenged it on First Amendment grounds in state Supreme Court.
This gag order and the one projected for Trump are not about the integrity of any individual court case but the overriding integrity of the electoral process. It would further make a mockery of the justice system that was weaponized to undermine a public movement. It may even constitute vengeance for the U.S. Capitol protests in 2021.
Ominously, this rumored gag order goes far beyond Donald Trump and his legal troubles. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that free speech is much more than public expression, it is the very “essence of self-governance,” Snyder v Phelps, 562 US 443 (2011). A motion now on this issue opens up a treasure trove of principles that could sweep this defendant into office as our next president.
But such a motion must be lodged with precision if this backfire is to be realized. A highly supported, carefully researched and dispositive filing is critical during a narrow window period, coupled with an omnibus approach to dismiss the indictment altogether. It can collapse this circus show before our justice system is abused any further.
Donald Trump has already suffered devastating losses in various courts and this case is the most crucial for his long-term interests. My input is backed by more than 23 years of trial experience in state and federal courts of New York. In that time, I never lost a criminal jury trial.
Get more details on my highly suppressed views and this unprecedented case at http://www.leonkoziol.com.
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