Alina Habba Issues Ultimatum To Judge Engoron

alina habba issues ultimatum to judge engoron

Judge Arthur Engoron before the start of the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization, at the New York State Supreme Court in New York City on December 7, 2023 (left) and Alina Habba speaking to media outside Manhattan Criminal Courthouse for the Donald Trump hush-money trial on May 30, 2024 in New York City (right). Habba has called for Engoron to be removed from Trump's civil fraud case after claims he received unsolicited advice from an attorney during the trial.

Donald Trump attorney Alina Habba called for Judge Engoron to recuse himself from the former president's civil fraud case during a Fox News interview on Friday claiming they "cannot wait here any longer" for the Office of Attorney Ethics to take action.

Trump's team is arguing Engoron should be removed from the case due to alleged "appearance of impropriety" following claims he received unsolicited advice from New York real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey whilst the trial was still ongoing.

In February Judge Engoron, who sits on the New York State Supreme Court, imposed a fine of $454 million, including interest, on Trump after concluding he engaged in civil fraud by falsely inflating the value of his assets when securing bank loans.

In addition Trump was banned from holding any directorships in New York for three years and the Trump Organization is unable to secure any loans with companies in the city during this time. Trump maintains his innocence in all legal matters and is appealing the civil judgment.

The latest controversy started when Bailey spoke to New York City based NBC station WNBC, telling them that around three weeks before Trump's trial he approached Engoron and told him "what I think and why...I really want him to get it right." However Bailey insisted he and Engoron "never mentioned the words Donald Trump" during the conversation.

During an appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News show on Friday, Habba reiterated the Trump team's complaint.

She said: "I just want to be really clear for the listeners on what happened here. This attorney Mr Bailey went on TV bragging about the fact he had spoken with the judge that was sitting on our case, Judge Engoron. The judge had not issued his final decision on this case and this attorney who has sued Trump more than six times has now gone up to a judge sitting on an active case and spoken to him about the case. That is not allowed.

"He never notified the parties, not allowed. This goes way beyond anything else we already know and it gave us another reason to say yet again 'you need to step down, you need to take robe, you're code of judicial conduct, seriously.'"

Habba noted the incident is being investigated by the Office of Attorney Ethics but said Trump's team "cannot wait here any longer for these judges to sit here and make the right decision." Consequently Habba said Trump's team is "going to continue to push and push" and had subpoenaed Bailey in a bid to gain access to his communications.

Referring to the verdict, she added: "If this was influenced, if we do find out about it, absolutely there are grounds to vacate the decision for a reversal."

Newsweek contacted Alina Habba and Adam Leitman Bailey by email, along with the New York State Supreme Court by telephone, on Saturday outside of usual business hours.

In an email sent to Newsweek on Thursday New York State Unified Court System communications department spokesperson Al Baker said they had "no further comment on this matter."

In a previous statement sent to WNBC Baker insisted Engoron did not have improper contact with "Mr. Bailey or any other person" during the civil fraud trial.

In a court filling targeting Engoron on Thursday Trump's team said: "The integrity of this tribunal and President Trump's right to a fair and impartial trial, have been ineluctably imperiled. Under these circumstances, recusal is mandatory and essential to preservation of the rule of law."

In an unrelated case in May, Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records which prosecutors claim he did to conceal the payment of hush money to a former pornographic actress ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Trump described the trial as "rigged" and is widely expected to appeal.

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