Hush money judge warns Trump’s lawyers to abide by rulings

Judge Juan Merchan on Tuesday warned former President Trump’s lawyers in his hush money case to abide by the court’s rulings.

“The Court advises counsel that it expects and welcomes zealous advocacy and creative lawyering,” Merchan wrote.

“However, the Court also expects those advocates to demonstrate the proper respect and decorum that is owed to the courts and its judicial officers and to never forget that they are officers of the court. As such, counsel is expected to follow this Court’s orders,” he continued, also referencing his power to issue criminal contempt punishments.

The stern warning came at the end of the judge’s four-page ruling denying Trump’s request to lift a requirement that the parties seek permission before filing any new motions prior to trial.

Merchan had implemented the requirement on March 8, portraying it as a move to manage the case more efficiently as Trump mounts various attempts to delay his trial at the last minute.

On Tuesday, the judge accused Trump’s lawyers of attempting to “circumvent” the new requirement by filing one of their proposed motions as an exhibit to their letter seeking permission before Merchan signed off.

“This Court emphasizes that it hopes for and fully expects zealous advocacy from counsel as well as spirited contribution from witnesses and parties alike,” Merchan wrote. “Nonetheless, the Court expects that the line between zealous advocacy and willful disregard of its orders will not be crossed.”

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Merchan’s ruling came one day after he refused to delay Trump’s trial further, with jury selection to begin on April 15. It is set to mark the first criminal trial of a former president.

Trump is charged in the case with 34 counts of falsifying business records over reimbursements to his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, who paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 just before the 2016 election to stay quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.

Trump, who acknowledges the reimbursements but denies the affair, pleaded not guilty.

The ruling was one of two Merchan issued Tuesday. He also rejected Trump’s motion to post any communications between the judge and the parties not already made public.

“To be clear, all motions, decisions, orders, and pleadings, normally maintained in the court’s public file are in the public file,” Merchan wrote.

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