Former President Donald Trump's Hush-Money Trial Set to Begin

Former President Donald Trump is facing the stark reality of depleted legal options as his Manhattan hush-money trial is set to commence.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Former President Donald Trump's Hush-Money Trial Set to Begin
© Getty Images/Brandon Bell

Former President Donald Trump is facing the stark reality of depleted legal options as his Manhattan hush-money trial is set to commence. Legal experts are nearly unanimous in their view that Trump has exhausted avenues to delay the trial's start on Monday. After a series of unsuccessful attempts this week, including three separate emergency delay bids rejected by Manhattan appellate judges, all signs point to the trial proceeding as scheduled.

Barry Kamins, a retired New York Supreme Court justice, noted, "I think they've run out of steam here," indicating that Trump's legal team has hit a wall regarding pretrial delay tactics. The only conceivable delay now could arise from a health emergency concerning Trump himself, though Kamins warned that such a scenario would be scrutinized intensely.

Continued Appellate Efforts and Their Implications

Despite the bleak outlook for further delays, Trump's legal team is actively pursuing three appellate challenges related to the trial. These include questioning the impartiality of State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, challenging a gag order, and contesting the judge's handling of pretrial motions. These efforts are progressing under an expedited schedule, with decisions from full panels of appellate judges expected by the end of the month.

However, even if these appellate efforts were to succeed—a scenario experts deem highly unlikely—it would not likely halt or pause the ongoing trial. Paul Shechtman, a former federal prosecutor, emphasized the improbability of the New York Court of Appeals intervening in an ongoing trial, and the same reticence is expected from the U.S. Supreme Court, which may eventually handle the case due to constitutional issues raised.

Strategic Implications of Trump’s Legal Tactics

While the immediate goal of delaying the trial seems unattainable, Trump's legal maneuvers may not be entirely in vain. By contesting on constitutional grounds now, Trump’s attorneys are laying the groundwork for potential post-trial appeals. These challenges, particularly those invoking the First and Sixth Amendments regarding Trump's rights to free speech and a fair trial, are positioning the case for scrutiny by higher courts.

Michel Paradis, a law professor at Columbia Law School, pointed out, "It's very, very unusual to stay a criminal trial," especially once it has commenced. He further noted that by consistently raising constitutional issues, Trump's legal team is setting the stage for appeals that could reach the New York Court of Appeals or even the U.S. Supreme Court.

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