Former President Donald Trump, left, and New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
A New York state appellate court judge has put the civil fraud trial involving the New York attorney general’s office and former President Donald Trump on temporary hold, raising questions about whether the trial will begin next month as planned, according to three people familiar with the court ruling.
The appellate judge agreed to an emergency request by lawyers for Trump, his eldest sons, and the Trump Organization, who asked the appeals court to slow down the litigation until Judge Arthur Engoron, the lower court judge overseeing the case, rules on a key issue, the people with direct knowledge of the litigation said.
The appellate court judge ordered all briefs be submitted by September 25 – just one week before the $250 million fraud lawsuit is set to go to trial on October 2. The start of trial could potentially be delayed depending on when the appellate court rules. If the lower court issue is resolved sooner, and the appeals court agrees, the trial could start on time.
“We are confident in our case and will be ready for trial,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
In June, a New York state appellate panel ruled in favor of Trump that the statute of limitations on some of the transactions had run out if they were completed by a certain date and another date for the defendants had tolling agreements. The panel ordered Engoron to “determine, if necessary, the full range of defendants bound by the tolling agreement.” The appeals court dismissed Ivanka Trump from the lawsuit.
Engoron has not made that determination involving the statute of limitations.
Lawyers for Trump and James have each asked Engoron to rule in their favor in pretrial motions. James’ office asked the judge to find that Trump’s financial statements were false and misleading. Trump’s lawyers asked the judge to dismiss the case, relying in large part on the statute of limitations argument. Oral arguments on those motions are scheduled for September 22.
Trump’s attorneys asked Engoron to pause the trial until he rules on the statute of limitations. That request was denied, the people said, and Trump’s attorneys then asked the appeals court to step in and pause the case. After oral argument, which was not noticed to the public, the judge did not agree to pause the case, but did agree to put the trial on hold.
If Engoron rules on the statute of limitations at the September 22 hearing it could potentially resolve the issue before the appeals court.