Critics Rip Bragg’s Office, Judge Merchan for Process in Trump Trial

Leading legal scholars and commentators have expressed intense disgust and disbelief at the bias and injustice that unfolded in the Manhattan courtroom at former President Donald Trump’s business records trial.

Harvard scholar Alan Dershowitz said this was a far worse “scene” than he has seen anywhere in the world, including corrupt countries such as China, Russia and Ukraine. write in New York Post Tuesday’s Editorial:

[I]In my 60 years as a lawyer and law professor, I have never seen anything like what I saw yesterday while sitting in the front row of the courthouse.

Alan Dershowitz (Michael Brokstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“The judge in Donald Trump’s trial was a total tyrant, but to the jury he appeared to be a benevolent tyrant, always seeming to automatically rule against the defendant,” he wrote about Judge Juan Merchan, who sat in the courtroom and watched the proceedings.

Dershowitz recalled Marchan’s treatment of Trump defense witness Robert Costello, a former lawyer for Democratic District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s “star witness,” Michael Cohen.

Judge Marchan raised his eyebrows during his sentence and after clearing the entire courtroom, including journalists, said he was “infuriated”.

WATCH — Tapper on CNN: Defense achieves ‘shocking’ revelation that Michael Cohen stole money from the Trump Organization:

Dershowitz said he witnessed “one of the most flagrant instances of false prejudice I have ever seen.”

The judge actually threatened to dismiss all of Costello’s testimony if he raised his eyebrows one more time. Of course, that would have been unconstitutional, because it would have denied the defendant his Sixth Amendment right to confront and defend the witness. It would have punished the defendant for something the witness was accused of doing.

He said that if the judge had rejected Mr Costello’s testimony it would have been “totally inappropriate and unlawful”.

“The judge’s threats were completely outrageous, unethical, illegal and despicable,” he added.

Judge Juan Merchan (left) is questioning witness Robert Costello. "Politeness" In a courtroom at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, Monday, May 20, 2024. (Elizabeth Williams via The Associated Press)

Judge Juan Marchan (left) harshly criticizes witness Robert Costello’s “decor” during a hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on May 20, 2024. (Elizabeth Williams via The Associated Press)

Greg Jarrett, a former lawyer and current Fox News legal analyst, said the trial “bears no resemblance” to the “cherished constitutional promise” of the right to a fair trial.

Jarrett Said:

District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s absurd lawsuit makes a mockery of our justice system. Judge Juan Marchan compounded the injustice by dismantling the due process principles that all defendants deserve. His rulings consistently sided with the prosecution, denying Trump’s defense a genuine defense that would have been allowed in any other court.

“Brugg and Marchan worked together to demonstrate that there is little respect for the rule of law or the rights of the accused. This is not a fair courtroom. This is an Orwellian show trial where the outcome is predetermined. There is no presumption of innocence, only a prediction of guilt.

Jarrett argued that Marchan gave Cohen and another witness, porn actress Stormy Daniels, “unlimited freedom to smear Trump in court.”

“Salacious, unsubstantiated details and malicious speculation intended to prejudice the jury were enthusiastically welcomed by Mr. Marchan,” Jarrett wrote.

Associated Press

As Stormy Daniels testifies on the stand, a promotional video for her show featuring a photo of Trump is shown on a monitor in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on May 9, 2024. (Elizabeth Williams via The Associated Press)

“But when Mr. Costello took oath and began to accurately portray his former client as a con man who had lied to the jury about key issues in the case, the judge silenced his testimony in less than a New York minute,” he wrote.

Jarrett also harshly criticized Marchan’s restrictions on another of the defense’s planned witnesses, former Federal Election Commissioner and campaign finance expert Brad Smith. Marchan’s restrictions were so excessive that the defense decided not to call him as a witness, Smith wrote in a post on X after he was not called to testify.

Jarrett said Marchan’s decision to detain Smith gave Cohen the authority to “misinterpret federal election law for which he has no knowledge or expertise.”

“But Mr. Marchan did not allow the defense to call qualified experts, including the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, to adequately explain to the jury the true meaning of election law and why Mr. Daniel’s non-disclosure agreement did not constitute an illegal campaign contribution,” Jarrett said.

WATCH — Jordan slams Bragg for “caring more about perpetrators than victims” during New York City criminal hearing:

“Without expert testimony, jurors can only make uninformed guesses, and that is exactly what Mr. Bragg and Mr. Marchan are counting on,” he said.

“Judge Marchan, a Joe Biden donor, has been against Donald Trump since day one. Now he knows what happened in the courtroom. And now he’s trying to save Bragg’s absurd case that collapsed against Trump, and he’s trying to get it across the finish line,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said after Judge Marchan’s outburst.

He added:

Make no mistake, Judge Juan Marchan is doing all he can to save Alvin Bragg and put Donald Trump in jail.[ing] A lifeline, a lifeline, and a lifeline. This devout Democrat not only donated to Biden, but — let’s not forget — his daughter is a political activist and Democratic activist who has reportedly raised millions on this case, has not been allowed to resign by Judge Marchan. This New York Democrat has no bigger dream than to denounce Donald Trump.

He noted that Marchan “was not selected at random.”

“He was chosen for his experience in past anti-Trump litigation,” he said. “This case is not about law and justice. It is about keeping Trump in court and publicly smearing him in the hopes of convicting him based solely on politics.”

Legal experts also argued that Marchan and Bragg violated the Smith Amendment by never specifying what “crimes” Trump allegedly committed.

Associated Press

Judge Juan M. Marchan poses in a New York courtroom on March 14, 2024. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Bragg puts forward a novel and questionable legal theory that Trump violated New York’s law prohibiting falsifying business records by classifying purported campaign expenses as litigation expenses, and that the record-falsifying offense, normally a misdemeanor, should be upgraded to a felony because it was an attempt to cover up a separate “crime” of trying to influence the 2016 election.

Jarrett criticized Marchan and Bragg for never disclosing what the second “crime” was. He wrote:

During the trial, the judge allowed the prosecution to hide the so-called “mystery crime” that upgraded a misdemeanor that was already time-barred to a felony. So the trial is over, both sides have finished their arguments, and closing arguments are scheduled to begin next Tuesday. But we still don’t know what the underlying crime Trump allegedly committed is. It’s a farce.

Jarrett continued.

No competent and impartial judge could allow such a flagrant violation of the Sixth Amendment. Every accused person has a fundamental right to be “informed of the charges and causes” brought against him, yet Mr. Bragg never respected that constitutional guarantee. Worse, Mr. Marchan allowed Mr. Bragg to escape justice, tantamount to allowing local courts to be misused to enforce federal laws over which they have no authority or jurisdiction.

“The only real crime detailed in this case doesn’t involve Donald Trump, but the star witness, Michael Cohen, who is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the Trump Organization,” Hannity said.

Jarrett also harshly criticized the restrictive gag order issued against Trump throughout the trial, which prohibited him from commenting about Cohen or any other witnesses, while leaving Cohen free to slander Trump throughout the trial.

Check it out — “We love Trump!” New York crowd cheers as Trump visits Harlem bodega after second day of trial:

Jarrett predicted that the damage this case has done to the judiciary will extend “well beyond the verdict.”

“The corrupt conduct of prosecutors and the apparent bias of judges are moral failings that will inevitably create skepticism about democratic government,” he wrote, adding:

The notion of a level playing field was relegated to a bad joke. Instead, Bragg and Marchand conspired to ruin the trial by brainwashing the jury with false information and false testimony. At every turn, they tried to brainwash the jury into believing criminal activity was afoot, despite evidence to the contrary.

In fact, none of the key elements of the crimes alleged in the indictment have been satisfied by the prosecutors. There is no credible evidence that Trump engineered or knew about any entries by his accountants that were not false at all. There is also no plausible evidence that he knowingly violated election laws that were not violated at all. Where is the fraud that the prosecutors alleged in their opening statement? Like Bigfoot, it is the fictitious missing link in the case.

“This trial has always been a trial of fictitious crimes and a shameful farce,” he said. “This case is shrouded in reasonable doubt. Yet the jury was subjected to a string of lies and deception by District Attorney Alvin Bragg, supported by Presiding Judge Juan Marchan, who together have trampled on the rights of the defendants through lies and the unchecked abuse of power.”

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