Judge Engoron being investigated by judicial oversight body

by | May 9, 2024

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An interaction between the judge in Trump’s civil fraud trial and a real estate lawyer is now the subject of an investigation by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Attorney Adam Leitman Bailey asserted during an interview with NBC New York that he had conversed with Judge Arthur Engoron three weeks before the judge's February ruling to penalize President Trump with an outrageous $454 million fine for allegedly inflating the value of his assets.

Bailey mentioned that he is familiar with the judge due to numerous appearances before him as a litigant “hundreds of times.” He stated that he had discussions with the judge, explaining that the fraud statute involved in the case was not meant to be utilized to close down a significant company, particularly in instances lacking clear victims. Bailey expressed concern that such a ruling would negatively impact New York's economy. Engoron had previously dismissed a similar argument presented by the Trump team during court proceedings.

In 2019, a New York appellate court suspended Bailey's law license for four months due to misconduct in two separate matters. Court records reveal that Bailey inappropriately used his cellphone to take photos of witnesses during an arbitration hearing and threatened to share them with the media. In another incident, he reportedly told a tenant involved in a case that they “should just kill themselves,” as outlined in the appellate court’s decision.

According to New York's Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers are prohibited from stating or implying an ability to improperly influence a judge.

State legal conduct rules also dictate interactions with judges regarding their pending cases outside of official courtroom proceedings. According to the New York State Rules of Judicial Conduct, judges are prohibited from initiating, permitting, or considering ex parte communications, or considering other communications made to them outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers. However, there is an exception that allows judges to seek advice from a disinterested expert, provided they notify the parties in the case and give them the opportunity to respond.

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct will now review whether the rules of judicial conduct were violated in this particular instance, as per sources familiar with the matter.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct investigates alleged improprieties involving state judges. Out of nearly 3,000 complaints filed in 2023, only about 200 led to an investigation, as per the commission’s data.

Consequences ranged from confidential letters of caution to a judge vacating the bench. These investigations are conducted confidentially and can last from months to over a year, according to recent annual reports.

 

Source: NBC New York

 

 

 

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