Former Manhattan assistant prosecutor says NY Judge Merchan should have been the 'last person selected' to oversee Trump criminal case

May 3, 2023
Ben Marquis

Amid allegations of partisan bias, there have been calls for the recusal of the New York judge presiding over the criminal case pressed against former President Donald Trump by Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Now a former prosecutor in Bragg's office has asserted that New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan never should have been assigned to oversee that case against Trump in the first place, the Conservative Brief reported.

That assertion followed revelations that Merchan previously made minor but still ethically questionable political donations to Democrats as well as that his daughter is a leftist activist who does digital campaign ads for numerous progressive Democratic politicians and partisan organizations.

Judge should have been "the last person selected" to oversee Trump case

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that, according to unnamed sources, Justice Merchan had been assigned to preside over former President Trump's criminal case because he had prior experience in recent years in dealing with Trump's attorneys and businesses.

That began in 2020 when an administrative judge picked Merchan to settle a dispute over subpoenas between the Manhattan DA's office and the Trump Organization, which then led to him being assigned to oversee a grand jury that was part of a broad probe into the former president and his family business and any cases that arose from the investigations.

Per the Journal, "Since 2021, the judge has held the Trump Organization in contempt for failing to turn over documents in one probe by the Manhattan district attorney’s office; presided over a trial in which a jury convicted the company of tax fraud; and sentenced former company finance chief Allen Weisselberg to jail for tax and other offenses."

However, that tax-fraud conviction has since been appealed, and according to former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Christopher Brennan, a reversal in that case by the appeals court would raise legitimate questions about whether Justice Merchan was truly impartial with respect to Trump.

"There was not a random selection of a judge in this case, and there should have been," Brennan told the Journal. "He actually should be the last person selected, given the potential conflict."

Manhattan courts operate differently

The Journal explained that in the federal court system, judges are typically assigned to cases at random, but that isn't how it works in New York's court system, particularly in Manhattan, where there is a tendency to assign similar or related cases together with the same judge, ostensibly because of their experience and familiarity with the subject matter at hand.

That has obviously been the case in terms of Justice Merchan and Trump, in that the judge has now overseen multiple cases involving the former president and his business over the past two years, as noted.

Whether complaints or motions filed by Trump's attorneys over what appears to be common practice in the Manhattan court system will have any success in getting the matter moved to another court is something that remains to be seen, but is doubtful.

Evidence of partisan bias from judge and his activist daughter

Meanwhile, the assertion from the former Manhattan prosecutor that Justice Merchan should have been the "last person selected" to preside over the criminal prosecution of Trump follows other revelations that seriously call into question his impartiality, according to a previous report from Breitbart.

It was revealed in early April that Merchan had made a combined $35 in donations in 2020 to President Joe Biden's campaign and a pair of progressive Democratic political organizations. And while those donations are minuscule in the grand scheme of things, they nevertheless are in violation of multiple judicial conduct and ethics codes that prohibit New York judges from making any political donations, no matter how small, due to the clear appearance of partisanship.

At the same time, the outlet also revealed how Merchan's adult daughter, Loren Merchan, runs a company that creates digital ads for Democratic groups and politicians, including the Biden-Harris campaign, which Trump ran against in 2020 and is the front-running candidate to run against once again in 2024, which also obviously creates a clear conflict of interest and appearance of bias and partisanship that is not supposed to be allowed.

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