On Friday, November 10, 2023, Representative Elise Stefanik, the House GOP conference chair, filed an official complaint with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct against Judge Arthur Engoron, the judge presiding over a civil fraud trial brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization.
In the complaint, Stefanik alleges Judge Engoron has exhibited clear bias against Trump throughout the proceedings in multiple ways. She cites several incidents from the case. In February 2022, Judge Engoron told Trump’s attorney that Trump is “just a bad guy” who James “should go after.” On October 2, 2023, a video went viral showing Judge Engoron smiling and posing for cameras at the start of the trial.
Stefanik’s complaint says Judge Engoron ignored an appellate ruling limiting the statute of limitations and entered summary judgment against Trump before the trial began. The congresswoman argues this violates Trump’s Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial. Judge Engoron is also accused of gagging Trump and his attorneys from speaking during the trial.
The complaint notes Judge Engoron and his principal law clerk Allison Greenfield have both made partisan donations to Democratic candidates and causes. Greenfield donated over $3,000 to Democrats in 2022 alone in apparent violation of judicial conduct rules. When Trump’s attorneys notified Judge Engoron of this, he issued a gag order against them.
Stefanik argues Judge Engoron’s bias is exhibited by his rulings, such as finding Mar-a-Lago was worth only $18-$27 million when experts valued it over $1 billion. She says the case belongs in the Commercial Division court rather than Judge Engoron’s court. Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy called the “whole New York justice system” fraudulent over this case.
In conclusion, the complaint states Judge Engoron’s behavior jeopardizes confidence in New York’s judiciary and denies Trump’s constitutional rights to due process and a fair trial. It asks the Commission on Judicial Conduct to sanction Judge Engoron and compel his recusal from the Trump fraud trial.
Judge Engoron, who previously served as a judge on the New York City Civil Court from 2003 to 2015 and as an acting justice of the Supreme Court 1st Judicial District from 2013 to 2015, was elected as a judge of the Supreme Court 1st Judicial District in New York in the general election on November 3, 2015, running unopposed.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.