New York Appellate Court Judge Lifts Trump Gag Order
NEW YORK — A New York appellate court judge on Thursday temporarily lifted the gag order placed on former President Donald Trump and his attorneys in his civil fraud trial following an emergency hearing.
Associate Justice David Friedman of the First Judicial Department ruled from the bench, expressing skepticism about whether the harm done by Trump’s spewing invective outweighed the harm of infringing on the former president’s free speech rights.
Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the civil fraud trial, imposed the gag order on Trump to prevent him from making any statements about court staff, citing security risks.
His order came after Trump posted on social media repeated baseless allegations involving the judge’s principle law clerk.
Engoron later fined Trump $15,000 for violations and expanded the order to include his lawyers after they questioned the clerk’s prominent role in the courtroom.
Trump’s legal team had requested the emergency hearing on the gag order earlier this week, contending that the order cast serious doubt on Engoron’s ability to serve as an “impartial finder of fact” for the case.
“His extraordinary expansion of that order both limits and chills advocacy on petitioners’ behalf and precludes counsel on pain of contempt from making a record of misconduct and bias in a public courtroom,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in their request.
The former president’s legal team requested an interim stay of Engoron’s gag orders and the sanctions that resulted from his violation of them, which the New York appellate division granted after oral arguments Thursday.
The gag orders stemmed from an online attack Trump made on Engoron’s principal law clerk, who has become an unwitting main character in the fraud trial.
Friedman’s decision also voids the fines imposed on Trump for violating the gag order while it was in effect.