Trump’s call could give him a huge October surprise


Donald Trump has vowed to appeal his historic criminal conviction in New York City, but the awkward timing of his sentencing is delaying a final decision just days before the November election — adding a fiery catalyst to an already flammable situation.

Trump could be forced to spend time in a state prison, have his movements tightly controlled while on probation, or even be ordered to perform community service over the summer — long before a higher court rules. could overturn the first conviction of a former president ever. The alternative is for him to remain absent pending an appeal, with the verdict hanging over his head as election day approaches.

The irony is that Trump — who has always employed delaying tactics to delay the many legal actions against him for sexually assaulting a journalist, defrauding banks, falsifying company records and more — could get a taste of his own medicine thanks to the bureaucratic legal system in New York.

“We will appeal this scam,” Trump scolded last week in Trump Tower, just before calling the judge “a tyrant.”

He was talking about New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, who oversaw the seven-week trial that ended with a jury unanimously finding Trump guilty of all 34 counts of falsifying company records to conduct a cover-up. feed.

Merchan set sentencing for July 11, just three days after the First Judicial Division’s deadline to receive basic appeal paperwork. The Appellate Division’s calendar shows that oral arguments cannot be scheduled until Oct. 1 at the earliest, giving the justices just a few weeks to review the case before voters go to the polls.

‘There is no way to go to the court of appeal until a conviction has been handed down. And the sentencing verdict will be handed down when he is convicted,” said Jill Konviser, a retired New York criminal court judge.

It’s difficult to see how you can speed that up. The appeal judges are on summer vacation. The First Department will not hear arguments in June, July or August.

“In general, appellate work can be very slow and deliberate. No one is generally in a hurry to decide cases unless it’s something like a voting issue,” said Alan David Marrus, another former judge in New York state.

Marrus noted that appellate courts sometimes expedite cases when considering election laws, such as issues involving voter access, districting or candidate qualifications. But while the conclusion of the Trump case could certainly affect how some people vote, it is not, strictly speaking, an election issue.

Then there’s the chance that Trump pulls the same trick as his former chief White House strategist, right-wing media personality Steve Bannon, who was convicted by a jury of criminal contempt for ignoring a congressional subpoena but managed to get out of the to remain in prison. for two years until he was tried behind bars this month.

Trump’s fate is certainly a matter of political urgency. But it lacks legal urgency, noted Marrus, who headed the prosecutor’s appeals office in the Bronx before becoming a judge in 1983.

“In a criminal case, the defendants are given a postponement of their judgment if the court is of the opinion that there is a real problem,” says Marrus. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with the Trump case. I assume he will not be in jail while this appeal is heard. So, what is the urgency to decide this case? You tell me. Why should they rush to decide this case?

In reality, it’s up to Trump’s own legal team. And that’s where – once again – Trump could drag his feet. In his two federal trials against journalist E. Jean Carroll, both of which he lost, Trump has slowly moved through each step of the rape libel cases in an effort to avoid handing over the $88 million he owes her. He is currently appealing a state court ruling on bank fraud, which has been assessed at nearly half a billion dollars and allows the New York attorney general to seize Trump’s assets.

This criminal conviction is no different, Marrus noted. While Trump likes to talk about how he packed the U.S. Supreme Court with three conservatives and tilted it 6-3 to the right, he will first have to battle an appeals court that oversees Manhattan — and is made up of justices from the same progressive metropolis Trump. keeps bashing.

“The lawyers can work as hard as they want. But I don’t see them rushing it,” Marrus said. “I don’t think they expect to win in the appeals division. If this case were to go to the Supreme Court, I can see them wanting to address this immediately. But the First Department has it now, and these are the same kind of judges who were on the bench. They are of the same race: elected and mostly Democrats from the New York area.”

Former prosecutor Tess Cohen said there is certainly an incentive for Trump to try to speed up the appeal. She said Trump will likely serve a sentence — whether in New York City’s feared Rikers Island prison or even a conditional custodial sentence that comes with strict rules. And while the prison sentence could theoretically be suspended by Judge Merchan or even an emergency stay from the Appellate Division, she said that’s not likely.

“It’s almost never done. That’s really rare. In principle, you should have a very good chance of winning on appeal,” she said.

When asked whether Merchan seems susceptible to that — after watching Trump violate his gag order a dozen times, intimidate jurors, threaten the prosecutor and even launch verbal attacks against the judge’s daughter — Cohen responded bluntly.

“Not even remotely. And there’s no reason for him to do that. No standard defendant would receive a stay pending the appeal after a trial like this.”

In some ways, Trump has spun this tangled web. The trial was scheduled to begin on March 25 but was postponed for three weeks after last-minute legal maneuvering by Trump’s defense team. If the seven-week trial had ended in mid-May, the conviction could have been determined by mid-June, allowing Trump to argue for an appeal in September.

Instead, it’s possible that Trump will go to the polls against President Joe Biden while his conviction is under appeal — giving MAGA defenders a weak but real excuse to say the verdict is still pending.

And if the First Department indeed issues an opinion that solidifies Trump’s fate by quickly confirming the case in October? Cohen believes Merchan will likely postpone the final court hearing until after the Nov. 5 election, raising the possibility that the judge who convicted a former president will have to punish a newly elected president.