A New York appeals court on Thursday again rejected former President Trump’s challenge to two gag orders in his civil fraud trial in Manhattan.
The four-judge panel ruled after finding that Trump’s attorneys failed to properly appeal the orders. According to the judges, Trump’s lawyers erred by suing New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron, who’s overseeing the trial and issued the gag order in October after Trump disparaged his law clerk.
The judges wrote that Trump’s attorneys should have instead followed the normal appeals process by asking Engoron to reverse the gag order and then, if they’d been denied, to fight that decision in a higher court.
Trump had targeted Engoron’s principal law clerk by sharing a social media post that included her full name and a photo of her posing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) as they both smiled. Trump’s posting falsely called the clerk “Schumer’s girlfriend” and accused her of “running this case against me.”
Trump filed to appeal the gag order, and an injunction on the order was issued while the appeals process played out, but then a four-judge panel restored it on November 30.
The gag order was also eventually expanded to include not only parties in the case but also attorneys after Trump’s own attorneys questioned the law clerk’s role on the bench.
Engoron is overseeing the trial in which New York State Attorney General Letitia James is suing Trump, his companies and its officers including Trump’s two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, over allegations of more than 200 instances of bank, tax and insurance fraud over a 10-year period from 2011 to 2021.
There is no jury in Trump’s civil trial. This past September, Engoron issued a summary judgment in the suit, agreeing with James’ allegations that Trump and his company and officers did in fact commit business fraud during the decade in question.
The summary judgment resolved the key claim in James’ lawsuit, but the other claims remain, including the amount of damages that will be levied. The New York Attorney General is suing Trump and the other defendants for $250 million in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in his home state.
The defense rested its case on Monday after Trump declined to testify for a second time in the trial.
Judge Engoron has set January 11 for closing arguments in the trial.