Breaking: New York Judge Looking Over Donald Trump’s Case Facing Major Accusations Linked To Past Actions, Increasing The Chances Of A Mistrial

The New York Times

The New York judge that is overseeing Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against former President Donald Trump could find himself as the face of an ethics complaint and investigation for his own past actions.

Legal experts and former prosecutors believe that Judge Juan Merchan may have violated New York’s Code of Judicial Conduct by making three donations to Democrats in 2020. They added that it could be grounds for an ethics investigation and possibly a mistrial if he were to remain on the case.

The Conservative Brief reported:

Per Section 100.5 of the New York Code of Judicial Conduct, sitting judges cannot “directly or indirectly engage in any political activity.” Among the prohibited political activity: “(h) soliciting funds for, paying an assessment to, or making a contribution to a political organization or candidate.”

The New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics’s yearly-updated handbook points this out clearly: “A sitting judge may not make political contributions at any time, even to a U.S. presidential candidate or to a federal congressional candidate outside of New York State (Opinion 11-146; 22 NYCRR 100.5[A][1][h]).”

And, according to the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge shall not, unless permitted by law, “solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or a candidate for public office.”

“However, Merchan — a New York state judge — made three political donations in 2020, according to public Federal Election Commission records,” Breitbart pointed out.

FEC records reveal that Merchan contributed $15.00 to Biden for President, Trump’s opponent, on July 26, 2020, through ActBlue.

On the following day, July 27, 2020, he made a $10.00 donation to the Progressive Turnout Project, an organization focused on encouraging Democrat voters to turn out.

He also donated $10 to Stop Republicans, which is part of the Progressive Turnout Project that seeks to resist the Republican Party and Donald Trump’s “radical right-wing legacy” which is also through Act Blue.

“While the amounts here are minimal, it’s surprising that a sitting judge would make political donations of any size to a partisan candidate or cause,” said Elie Honig, a senior CNN legal analyst, and former federal prosecutor.

Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics professor at New York University, said that regardless of the amount, donations are not permitted under New York’s own rules.

“The contribution to Biden and possibly the one to ‘Stop Republicans’ would be forbidden unless there is some other explanation that would allow them,” he said.

“Violations can lead to a warning, private discipline, public discipline, and more serious sanctions like removal. Serious discipline (e.g. removal) is decided by the N.Y. Court of Appeals,” he said.

Mike Davis, a former Republican chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “He donated to Joe Biden’s campaign. He should get off this case. And this judge has a history, with President Trump, in prior cases. He finds out that this judge actually donated to Biden’s campaign. So, that at least raises the appearance of impartiality – the appearance that this judge could not be impartial against President Trump.”

Karen Friedman Agnifilo, a CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, said the political donations were an “unforced error” for Merchan.

Judge Merchan has a reputation of being a fair down-the-middle judge, however, donating to a defendant’s political rival can cause the appearance of a conflict, even where there is none, and creates an unforced error, in this case, involving Trump,” she said.

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