On Thursday, April 6, 2023, Breitbart News reported that Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing the case of former President Donald Trump in Manhattan, made three donations to Democrats in 2020, which may have violated the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct and could result in an ethics investigation, according to several legal experts and former prosecutors.

A sitting judge is prohibited from “directly or indirectly engaging in any political activity” under Section 100.5 of the New York Code of Judicial Conduct, which includes “(h) soliciting funds for, paying an assessment to, or making a contribution to a political organization or candidate.”

Additionally, a judge is not allowed to “solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or a candidate for public office” unless it is allowed by law, according to the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct.

Furthermore, the New York State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics’s yearly updated handbook makes this clear, stating that a sitting judge may not make political contributions at any time, even to a U.S. presidential candidate or to a federal congressional candidate outside of New York State.

However, Federal Election Commission records indicate that Merchan made three political contributions in 2020 as follows: $15.00 to Biden for President – via ActBlue on July 26, 2020; $10 to Progressive Turnout Project, an organization dedicated to turning out Democrat voters, and $10.00 to Stop Republicans, dedicated to resisting the Republican party and Donald Trump’s radical right-wing, also via ActBlue on July 27, 2020.

In a statement, Stephen Giller, a legal ethics expert and law professor at New York University, said that such donations are forbidden unless “there is some other explanation that would allow them.”

Violations of the New York Code of Judicial Conduct would be investigated by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. They could lead to a warning, private discipline, and more serious sanctions like removal, added Gillers.

Nevertheless, Gillers posited that he did not believe the donation’s amount would be “viewed as trivial” or serve as justification for recusing himself from the case.

But other legal experts disagreed like Brett Tolman, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah and former counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Karen Friedman Agnifilo, a CNN legal analyst and former Manhattan district prosecutor.

Tolman told Breitbart News that this matter facilitates a judicial misconduct investigation and that there appears to be a conflict necessitating a recusal, saying:

“I believe under either analysis, Judge Merchan should recuse himself. He has direct conflict by making financial investment in the direct opponent of Trump, an announced candidate for President. Secondly, the appearance of conflict looms large in this case given the donations, prior cases against Trump, and his daughter’s conflicts.”

Similarly, Agnifilo also said that Merchan’s donations may have created the appearance of conflict, and that donation to a defendant’s political rival can cause the appearance of a conflict, even when there is none, and creates an unforced error, in this case involving Trump.

It was previously reported by Breitbart News that Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, is the president and partner of Authentic Campaigns, a company that manages digital campaigns for Democrats and worked on the Biden-Harris presidential campaign.

In a podcast episode from June 16, 2019, that Breitbart News reviewed, Loren Merchan talked about her work and brought up a conversation she had with her father in which he expressed his dislike for politicians using Twitter. Trump was a frequent Twitter user at the time.

Trump accused Judge Merchan and his family of being “well-known Trump haters” by saying:

“. . . The highly partisan judge & his family are well-known Trump haters. He was an unfair disaster on a previous Trump-related case, wouldn’t recuse, gave horrible jury instructions, & impossible to deal with during the witch trial hunt. His daughter worked for “Kamala” & now the Biden-Harris campaign. Kangaroo Court!!!”

Democrats and corporate media figures think otherwise, claiming that the connection between Merchan and his daughter’s work for Trump’s political opponent was “irrelevant.”

Judge Merchan earned a law degree from Hofstra University School of Law. He is the Acting Justice of the New York County Supreme Court, Criminal Term and Judge of the Court of Claims. His courtroom is located at Part 59, Room 1602, 100 Centre Street, New York, NY, and can be reached at 646-386-4059. His online bio can be found on LinkedIn.

 

Source: Breitbart News