Trump Judge Issues Critical Warning To Lawyers

The lawyers for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump were given a stark warning by Judge Juan Merchan Tuesday that, while hearty debate is welcomed in the courtroom, they still have to play by the rules.

Merchan issued the warning as part of a ruling he issued in the criminal hush money case that Trump is facing. It came toward the end of the four-page ruling that denied a request by Trump to remove a court requirement that all parties have to get permission before they file any new motions before the trial starts.

In the order, Merchan wrote:

“The Court advises counsel that it expects and welcomes zealous advocacy and creative lawyering.

However, the Court also expects those advocates to demonstrate the proper respect and decorum that is owed to the courts and its judicial officers and to never forget that they are officers of the court. As such, counsel is expected to follow this Court’s orders.”

In addition, Merchan referenced the power that he has as judge in the case to issue punishments of criminal contempt if one were to violate his rules.

The requirement to seek permission for new motions was implemented by Merchan in early March. When it was handed down, the judge said he did it so the case could be managed on a more efficient basis, seeing as Trump and his legal team were trying different legal tactics to have the trial delayed at the last minute.

This week, Merchant accused Trump’s legal team of trying to “circumvent” this new requirement, as they filed a proposed motion as an exhibit attached to a letter that was seeking permission before the judge signed off on it.

As the judge wrote:

“The Court emphasizes that it hopes for and fully expects zealous advocacy from counsel as well as spirited contribution from witnesses and parties alike. Nonetheless, the Court expects that the line between zealous advocacy and willful disregard of its orders will not be crossed.”

Trump recently tried to get the trial delayed more, but Merchan refused the latest request on Monday. Because of that, jury selection in the trial is slated to start on April 15.

When it does begin, it will mark the first time that a former president has faced a criminal trial.

In this specific case, Trump has been charged with 34 different counts of falsifying business records regarding reimbursements that were made to Michael Cohen, who at the time was working as a “fixer” for Trump.

Cohen paid $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 presidential election to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump.

For his part, Trump has acknowledged that the reimbursements were made, but he has denied that he had an affair with Daniels. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges that have been levied against him — in this and the other three criminal cases he faces.