New York appeals judge rejects Trump’s third legal challenge to delay hush money criminal trial

A New York appeals court judge on Wednesday denied a third effort in three days by Donald Trump’s attorneys to put on hold the former president’s impending criminal trial.

Associate Justice Ellen Gesmer for the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York denied Trump’s third legal challenge to delay the trial after a pair of state appeals court judges rejected similar efforts by Trump on Monday and Tuesday to pause the hush money trial, which is set to begin April 15 with jury selection.

The court docket for the state Appellate Division showed Trump’s attorneys filed the challenge as a lawsuit invoking a provision of New York law known as Article 78. Article 78 challenges allow litigants, whether in ongoing litigation or otherwise, to seek relief from allegedly unlawful state or local government action. The documents were filed under seal.

Trump attorney Emil Bove presented a grab-bag of arguments for a stay during an emergency hearing Wednesday, including reiterating his stance that the proceedings be paused while Trump challenges what Bove called the “unacceptable and unconstitutional restrictions” handed down by Judge Juan Merchan in a partial gag order last month that was expanded days later.

Bove also argued that Merchan’s ruling last week that rejected his bid to use presidential immunity as part of his defense, which found the former president waited too long to raise the issue, was in excess of his authority.

“We are entitled to raise this defense,” Bove said, while complaining that another order of the judge’s directing Trump to ask for permission to file motions was unfair as well.

Bove also suggested that Merchan has been “operating under an appearance of impropriety,” citing the political work by the judge’s daughter on behalf of the political firm Authentic Campaigns, which worked with President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020. He said the judge should remove himself from the case because of the alleged “conflict.”

Lisa Evans, a prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, pushed back, arguing that delaying the trial would “cause enormous disruption” and there’s no reason to do so.

“There is no evidence that Judge Merchan stands to benefit from the trial,” Evans said.

Steven Wu, another prosecutor for the DA’s office, called Bove’s arguments “completely meritless” and suggested that delaying the trial could create conflicts with Trump’s legal proceedings elsewhere.

The hearing got underway shortly after 4 p.m. ET.

On Monday, Trump filed a separate Article 78 petition with the Appellate Division seeking to halt the trial by arguing he can’t get a fair trial in Manhattan. A judge denied that request Monday, and a separate judge denied his request to delay the trial on Tuesday while he appeals the gag order Merchan imposed on him as “unconstitutional.”

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday. Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges he falsified business records relating to hush money payments that were made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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