Trump's Judge Is Familiar to Trump World

Former president says Juan Merchan 'HATES ME' because of previous cases
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2023 7:39 AM CDT
Trump's Judge Is Familiar to Trump World
A screen shot of Judge Juan Merchan.   (YouTube)

When former President Trump is arraigned Tuesday afternoon in a Manhattan courtroom, the presiding judge will be Juan Merchan. The judge "HATES ME," Trump has complained on Truth Social in demanding a replacement. Various outlets are now profiling the acting State Supreme Court judge ahead of the case's start. Some highlights:

  • Politico notes that Merchan, 60, has presided over two tax fraud cases related to the former president's business empire, and neither ended well for Trump. In one of the cases, Merchan lamented that longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg would not receive a sentence longer than 5 years. Separately, Merchan imposed the legal maximum fine of $1.6 million on the Trump Organization.
  • While Trump has a track record of publicly criticizing judges, the Politico story rounds up the opinions of some who agree that having Merchan on this case is, as they say, bad optics. “I don’t think it’s really a great move on the part of the court system to assign the same judge,” says a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, anonymously.

  • However, that profile and others, including at the AP and CNN, paint a picture of a calm, experienced judge who will be fair. "The judge is the kind of judge where he will ignore (the former president's criticism) and not hold it against Donald Trump," Karen Friedman Agnifilo, former chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan, tells CNN. "He’s not vindictive in any way like that.”
  • The Colombian-born Merchan has been serving as an acting justice on the state Supreme Court since 2009, per the Hill. He previously worked as a Manhattan prosecutor and a family court judge. One notable case he presided over in his current role was that of Anna Gristina, whose case was turned into the 2021 Lifetime movie Soccer Mom Madam. She pleaded guilty in 2012.
  • While Trump himself might be accusing the judge of bias, his legal team is not. "No, I don’t believe the judge is biased. I mean, the president is entitled to his own (opinion)," Joe Tacopina, who is representing Trump in the current hush-money case, said over the weekend on This Week.
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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