Legal experts are warning this week that the judge presiding over the New York fraud trial of former President Donald Trump may have already made a mistake in his decision to dissolve some of Trump’s companies.
Before the commencement of the trial, Judge Arthur Engoron determined that Trump had deceitfully exaggerated his net worth and mandated the dissolution of certain New York-based companies affiliated with the 45th president. However, legal experts told The New York Times that Engoron “potentially lacked the jurisdiction to terminate the corporations.”
The judge’s punishment was temporarily halted by an appeals court last week as it examined the order.
“President Trump very much appreciates the court’s consideration and ruling,” Trump attorney Christopher Kise said after the appellate court took up the case, adding that it would help “pave the way for a much needed, and deliberative, review of the trial court’s many errors.”
According to the Times report, Engoron has the authority to personally modify the order and utilize his anticipated January decision to revise the penalty before the appellate court’s ruling.
“The judge has extraordinary powers to fashion a remedy to curtail and punish the misconduct, meaning bad news for Trump,” Steven Cohen, a former top official at the New York attorney general’s office, told the Times.
In addition to the $250 million fine that New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking, Engoron has the authority to forbid Trump and his business from signing any new commercial real estate contracts or requesting loans from state-licensed banks. Additionally, he has the power to prohibit Trump from operating any business within the state.
However, the report suggests that the portion of the order that terminates certain New York companies belonging to him is less likely to be upheld.
The report states that the order revoked a specific form of business certification that permits Trump’s New York-based companies to operate under specific names. The order may require approximately 10 of the ex-president’s businesses to acquire new certificates. Additionally, the order mentions the “dissolution of the canceled LLCs,” the limited liability companies overseeing Trump’s properties.
According to legal experts, a judge cannot terminate an LLC unless one of its members specifically requests it.
“He’s going beyond what the statute seems to allow,” David Lowden, a lawyer who specializes in commercial transactions and corporate law, told the Times, predicting that the order would not destroy Trump’s empire but merely result in a “simple bureaucratic irritation, resolvable through paperwork.”
Additional legal experts have observed that the judge’s order applies to all ten of Trump’s New York companies that possess the certificate, rather than solely the smaller number mentioned in James’ complaint.
Some experts argued that penalizing a company that is not accused of any wrongdoing may lead to the involvement of the appeals court.
“He may have bought himself an appellate problem,” Cohen said, “and fueled an otherwise dubious claim of bias.”
Engoron, Trump, and his legal team had many heated exchanges over 10 weeks before the civil trial concluded on December 13.
The judge was slammed earlier this week when he used another opportunity to issue a blistering attack on the former president.
In the case where New York Attorney General Letitia James accuses Trump of fraudulently inflating the value of his properties and assets in financial statements, Engoron rejected the former president’s appeal for a directed ruling to exonerate him.
Engorn disagreed with Trump’s request for the court to rule in his favor and pointed out several “fatal flaws” in the former president’s defense, including the data provided by Eli Bartov, a research professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
The leader of the Republican presidential primary, Trump, has denied any wrongdoing and called the investigation a “witch hunt” with a political agenda to derail his 2024 campaign.
Closing arguments are scheduled to be held in early January in New York.