Donald Trump indicted: Presiding judge has history of overseeing Trump-related cases

APTOPIX Trump Indictment
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower, Monday, April 3, 2023, in New York. Trump arrived in New York on Monday for his expected booking and arraignment the following day on charges arising from hush money payments during his 2016 campaign. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura) Yuki Iwamura/AP

Donald Trump indicted: Presiding judge has history of overseeing Trump-related cases

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The New York judge who is presiding over former President Donald Trump‘s criminal case is also overseeing a separate case against former aide Steve Bannon and heard proceedings against the Trump Organization.

State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan oversaw the Manhattan grand jury that indicted Trump last week on charges related to hush money allegedly being paid to porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election cycle.

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Merchan presided over the case and trial of the Trump Organization and former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, which found the defendants guilty of 17 counts of tax fraud and falsifying business records.

Although Trump himself was not a party in that case, lawyers for the company attempted to argue the prosecution was politically motivated — an accusation many Republicans have made since the former president’s indictment. Merchan dismissed those claims, saying, “I will not allow you in any way to bring up a selective prosecution claim, or claim this is some sort of novel prosecution,” according to CBS News.

Reacting to Merchan’s assignment to the case, Trump posted to Truth Social, “The Judge ‘assigned’ to my Witch Hunt Case, a ‘Case’ that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME.”

Bannon’s case, which involves fraud and money laundering charges related to a charity set up to help fund the U.S.-Mexico border wall, is also being heard by Merchan.

Merchan is a former prosecutor with 16 years as a judge and has been serving as an acting justice since 2009. He has been described by New York lawyers, both defense and prosecution, as a “no-nonsense” jurist.

Speaking with CNN, Nicholas Gravante, who represented Weisselberg, said Merchan was “efficient, practical, and listened carefully to what I had to say.”

“He was clear in signaling his judicial inclinations, which helped me tremendously in giving Mr. Weisselberg informed legal advice,” Gravante continued. “Judge Merchan was always well-prepared, accessible, and, most importantly in the Weisselberg matter, a man of his word. He treated me and my colleagues with the utmost respect, both in open court and behind closed doors.”

The judge started his legal career as an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in 1994.

He worked in New York’s attorney general office before being appointed as a family court judge by then-Republican former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006.

Merchan was appointed by Democratic Gov. David Paterson to the state’s Court of Claims in 2009, which is also when he began serving on the trial court, which is called the Supreme Court in New York.

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The judge has found himself overseeing other high-profile cases, such as the case involving skydivers who jumped from the new World Trade Center building, saying they “sullied the memories of those who jumped on 9/11 not for sport but because they had to.”

Merchan emigrated from Colombia when he was 6 years old and earned a law degree from Hofstra University in 1994.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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