Donald Trump’s $250 million civil fraud trial in Manhattan is taking place without a jury.
The former president expressed his dissatisfaction with this arrangement, stating, “I think it’s very unfair,” during a makeshift press conference outside the courtroom.
The reason behind the absence of a jury, as explained by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, is that “nobody asked for” a jury trial.
This revelation prompts questions about why neither side sought a jury.
This development may leave some wondering whether a jury trial would have been an option under New York Executive Law 63 (12), the statute under which the case was filed.
Legal experts have suggested that it likely would not have been, as this consumer protection statute typically denies the right to a jury trial.
Trump’s spokesman emphasised this point, asserting that the law itself precluded a jury trial.
Both sides in the case did not appear to contest the absence of a jury. New York Attorney Letitia James had filed a form indicating “trial without a jury,” while Trump’s legal team did not file a corresponding form.
Before the trial began, Justice Engoron had already found Trump in contempt of court for discovery violations during the investigation that preceded the lawsuit.
In a recent ruling, the judge held Trump, his family members, and business associates liable for a massive fraud and ordered the dissolution of Trump’s New York business empire, an action referred to as the “corporate death penalty.”
Trump has publicly criticised the judge, both outside the courtroom and on his social media platform Truth Social.
Throughout his legal battles, Trump has often lashed out at judges who ruled against him.
As the trial unfolds, Justice Engoron will be the one to decide whether to issue an order disgorging hundreds of millions of dollars in allegedly ill-gotten gains.
Additionally, there is the possibility of barring Trump from ever serving as a director of a New York corporation.