Appeals Court Judge Puts Trump’s New York Gag Order on Hold

Appeals Court Judge Puts Trump’s New York Gag Order on Hold – On Thursday, a state appeals court judge temporarily removed a gag order preventing Donald Trump from discussing the judge overseeing a $250 million civil fraud trial against him. Shortly after the decision, Trump used the opportunity to criticize the trial judge’s principal law clerk on social media.

“Considering the constitutional and statutory rights at issue an interim stay is granted,” Associate Justice David Friedman of the Appellate Division, First Department wrote in a brief order. Friedman’s order also paused a gag order that barred the lawyers involved in the trial from making comments about “confidential communications” between the trial judge, Justice Arthur Engoron, and his staff.

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Engoron issued an early gag order on Trump during the civil fraud trial when Trump posted a derogatory social media message featuring the judge’s law clerk, Allison Greenfield. Trump violated the order twice, leading to two fines amounting to $15,000. After the initial gag order was in place, Trump’s lawyers began complaining repeatedly about Greenfield, accusing her of “eye rolls and constant whispering.” 

And arguing that her habit of passing notes to Engoron during proceedings suggested that she has been improperly influencing his decisions. Engoron then issued a second gag order prohibiting all lawyers working on the trial “from making any public statements, in or out of court, that refer to any confidential communications, in any form, between my staff and me.” Less than four hours after Friedman’s ruling on Thursday evening, Trump publicly criticized Greenfield once more, expressing his displeasure towards her and Engoron on social media.

“His Ridiculous and Unconstitutional Gag Order, not allowing me to defend myself against him and his politically biased and out of control, Trump Hating Clerk, who is sinking him and his Court to new levels of LOW, is a disgrace,” Trump wrote. Friedman issued the ruling following Trump’s lawyers filing a lawsuit against Engoron on Wednesday, contending that the gag orders violate free speech rights.

“This constitutional protection is at its apogee where the speech in question is core political speech, made by the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican Presidential nomination, regarding perceived partisanship and bias at a trial where he is subject to hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties and the threatened prohibition of his lawful business activities in the state,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

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A spokesperson for the trial court chose not to comment on the lawsuit or Friedman’s decision to halt the gag orders. The temporary pause in Engoron’s gag orders aligns with the lifting of a broader gag order on Trump in his Washington, D.C. criminal case, pending oral arguments before an appeals court scheduled for Monday.

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