Donald Trump’s Attempt to Move Criminal Case to Federal Court
Donald Trump’s lawyer has announced that the former president will seek to move his New York City criminal case to federal court. This is a long-shot bid to avoid a trial in the state court where the historic indictment was brought. While this move is rare, it could have significant advantages for Trump, including a broader, more politically diverse jury pool that’s more likely to include suburban Republicans.
Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, raised the prospect of a move to federal court during a state court hearing Thursday where a judge indicated he would put limits on Trump’s access to certain evidence, as prosecutors had requested, but wouldn’t issue a gag order or bar him from speaking publicly about the case.
Blanche told the state court judge that the defense team plans to file a motion Thursday asking to transfer the case from state court to federal court. He did not give a reason and did not comment to reporters as he left court.
Trump’s lawyers face a Thursday deadline to file paperwork listing their grounds for moving the case — 30 days after the April 4 state court arraignment where he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.
A federal judge would then have to rule on whether the case can be moved. Such requests are more common in civil lawsuits and are rarely granted in criminal cases. While that process plays out, the case will proceed in state court and all pretrial deadlines will remain in effect.
If successful, Trump’s move to federal court could allow him to gain a more favorable trial setting. In state court in Manhattan, juries are drawn only from that borough, where voters have heavily favored his Democratic rivals. However, it’s important to note that “this effort is extremely unlikely to succeed,” said Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School.
Trump’s charges, the first brought against a former president, are related to hush-money payments made during the 2016 campaign to bury allegations of extramarital sexual encounters.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan previously investigated those arrangements and only charged one person: Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law in connection with the payments. Cohen is a key witness in the state case against Trump.
Trump, a Republican, has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.
It’s interesting to note that during Thursday’s hearing, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan sought to broker a compromise between Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors, who raised concerns that he would use evidence obtained in the pretrial discovery process to attack witnesses and other people involved in the case, as he has in the past.
The judge, a target of Trump’s social media ire in the wake of his indictment, did not rule on the prosecution’s request for what’s known as a protective order. But he suggested he wants to balance the sanctity of the case, the safety of people involved, and Trump’s free speech rights.
“Obviously, Mr. Trump is different. It would be foolish for me to say he’s not. He’s the former president of the United States and he’s running again,” Merchan said.
The judge said Trump’s fame and megaphone make him different from other criminal defendants, but “with that comes responsibility that his words, especially when used in the form of rhetoric, can have consequences.”
Blanche said Trump wasn’t seeking to put evidence on social media nor was he objecting to a prosecution request, based in part on safety concerns, to keep identifying information about district attorney’s office employees secret until the trial starts.
Once he rules, Merchan said, he will hold a hybrid conference — lawyers in court, Trump appearing by video — where he will apprise him of the dos and don’ts of his impending order.
Merchan asked Trump’s lawyers and the prosecution to confer and agree on a trial date in either February or March 2024. Barring removal to federal court, that could land Trump, who’s making a comeback run for the White House, in court during next year’s primaries.
While moving a state prosecution to federal court is possible, the reasons for doing so are narrow and none seem to apply in this case. According to Roiphe, a former Manhattan prosecutor, “It’s not even clear that this would be a particularly effective delay tactic.”
It’s worth noting that such requests are more commonly seen in civil lawsuits and rarely granted in criminal cases. The fact that Trump’s case involves criminal charges makes it even more unlikely that the request will be granted. However, Trump’s lawyers appear to be exploring all possible options to gain an advantage in the case.
If the case remains in state court, Trump will face a jury pool that is heavily Democratic-leaning, which could work against him. In federal court, however, the jury pool would be more diverse, which could increase his chances of getting a more favorable outcome.
In any case, the move to transfer the case to federal court is unlikely to be successful. Trump’s lawyers will have to present strong grounds for the transfer and convince a federal judge that there is a compelling reason to move the case. With the legal hurdles involved, the move appears to be a long-shot at best.
In the meantime, the case will continue to move forward in state court, and all pretrial deadlines will remain in effect. Prosecutors are expected to present their case against Trump, including evidence obtained during the pretrial discovery process.
It remains to be seen how the case will ultimately play out, but one thing is clear: Trump is facing some serious legal challenges, and he will have to mount a strong defense if he hopes to avoid a conviction.
In conclusion, while Donald Trump’s move to transfer his criminal case to federal court may offer some advantages, it is unlikely to be successful. The legal hurdles involved in such a move are significant, and with the case already in state court, it is likely that the trial will proceed there. Trump and his legal team will have to mount a strong defense to avoid a conviction, as the charges against him are serious and the evidence against him is substantial.
This Article Was Originally Posted On www.hindustantimes.com