In Manhattan state court in New York City, on May 23, 2023, former U.S. president Donald Trump is seen interacting with Judge Juan Merchan via video conferencing during a hearing before the Supreme Court accused him of falsifying business records to hide money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016.
Merchan was asked by Trump to drop the case in Manhattan Supreme Court, where his trial is scheduled to start in late March, citing three different potential conflicts of interest.
Merchan cited a federal appeals court ruling in the five-page decision, which called on judges to balance whether someone who doubted the impartiality of prosecutors was trying to avoid “unfavorable outcomes.”
The judge concluded that recusal would not be in the public interest.
Judge Juan Merchan made it clear that he had carefully considered the legal parameters for his release following Trump’s mention of conflicts of interest.
On Monday, a judge in New York declined to drop the hush money trial of Donald Trump, confident that he can be fair and impartial with the former president.
Multiple charges have been brought against the Republican presidential candidate for falsifying business records related to a $130,000 hush money payment made by Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, to Stormy Daniels to conceal her alleged sexual affair with Trump.
Despite Trump’s denial of having sex with Daniels, he and his company, the Trump Organization, reimbursed Cohen for the payment and provided him with additional funds.
According to Trump’s legal team, Merchan’ daughter created a conflict of interest for him because she runs neoliberal digital marketing firm, which works with Democratic candidates.
They also pointed out that Merchan was involved in a different criminal case that involved Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of Trump’s company, and the judge’sentences to Democrats in 2020, including $15 from President Joe Biden’S campaign.
Merchan stated that the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics released an opinion in May, stating that his daughter’s employment was not directly or indirectly affected by the case.
The committee’s opinion stated that the parties involved and potential witnesses in the matter are not related, and none of the counsel before the judge is involved in business.
The inquiry does not appear to hold that the case’s outcome could affect the judge’ relative, their business, or any of their interests.
According to Merchan, the Trump Organization had previously tried to exclude him from presiding over their own criminal case on the same grounds that Trump used in his case, which were the judge’s alleged “inappropriate conduct in the plea negotiations of” Weisselberg.
Merchan stated in his ruling on Monday that the claim’s credibility is being diminished by the fact that they were raised on the same grounds for a different defendant, who has an entirely different indictment.
Merchan pointed out that the state advisory committee had stated that even modest political contributions made over two years ago cannot create any sense of bias or favoritism in the case before the judge.
Merchan wrote that the Court “has considered its conscience and is confident in its ability to be impartial.” The order also denies the defendant’s request for recusal and explanation.
Merchan referenced a federal appeals court ruling from New York in 1988 regarding judicial recusal.
In Re Drexel Burnham Lambert, the ruling states that the judge overseeing a case is most likely to comprehend the implications of matters alleged in reclaim proceedings.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting Trump, objected to the recusal request stating that the defendant has no arguments that accurately demonstrate any conflict of interest or preconceived bias.