The New York judge tasked with overseeing the felony trial of former President Donald Trump has a history with the defendant.
Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan has called the shots in proceedings involving Trump before.
Merchan was tasked with overseeing a subpoena dispute between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Trump Organization, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
That dispute preceded a 2022 trial in which the Trump Organization was convicted of criminal tax fraud, according to CNN.
The former president now faces 34 felonies brought about by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
In a new release about Trump’s indictment last month, the George Soros-funded prosecutor accused him of “falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity” before and after the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has criticized the incessant legal probes of his company, personal finances and conduct as president as nothing more than partisan witch hunts wrought by leftist local prosecutors.
One former Manhattan prosecutor is describing Merchan’s role in the upcoming trial as grossly inappropriate, considering his history in Trump-related legal matters.
“There was not a random selection of a judge in this case, and there should have been,” former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Christopher Brennan said of Merchan’s assignment, according to the Journal.
The selection of Justice Juan Merchan to preside over Donald Trump’s hush-money trial could tangle things up https://t.co/kWqsQeVYBf
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) April 30, 2023
“He actually should be the last person selected, given the potential conflict,” Brennan said.
On the contrary, Merchan was selected as the judge in Trump’s felony trial because of his experience in Trump-related legal matters, according to sources familiar with the assignment cited by the Journal.
That history with Trump could complicate the judge’s role in the trial — with Trump’s attorneys likely to scrutinize him for potential bias against their client.
The newest charges against the former president differ from previous investigations and legal probes significantly.
He is facing charges in his own capacity rather than defending his business or his official acts as president.
Trump could be sentenced to as many as 136 years in New York prison if he’s convicted on all charges.
He’s pleaded not guilty to Bragg’s charges and intends to mount a vigorous criminal defense in the midst of his 2024 presidential campaign.
Bragg’s felony charges against Trump are unprecedented: No other former president has been charged with a crime.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.