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Trump Trial ‘Violated Due Process’

Jun 7, 2024


An opinion article published Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal argued that former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial “violated due process” for multiple reasons.

Legal experts David B. Rivkin Jr. and Elizabeth Price Foley, who co-authored the op-ed, argued that even those who aren’t supporters of our former President should care about due process, a “fundamental” aspect “to the rule of law.” Using a slew of examples of real cases, the authors stated that “notice, meaningful opportunity to defend, and proof of all elements” are three of the aspects of due process “absent in Mr. Trump’s trial.”

“The state offense with which Mr. Trump was indicted, ‘falsifying business records,’ requires proof of an ‘intent to defraud.’ To elevate this misdemeanor to a felony, the statute requires proof of ‘intent to commit another crime.’ In People v. Bloomfield (2006), the state’s highest court observed that ‘intent to commit another crime’ is an indispensable element of the felony offense,” the experts wrote. “…Due process requires that the defendant receive timely notice of the other crime he allegedly intended to commit. It also requires that he have opportunity to defend against that accusation and that prosecutors prove beyond a reasonable doubt his intent to commit it.” (LEARN MORE: Trump And Biden Clash On One Issue In Swing States)

“Mr. Trump’s indictment didn’t specify the other crime he allegedly intended to commit,” the experts continued. “Prosecutors didn’t do so during the trial either. Only after the evidentiary phase of the trial did Judge Juan Merchan reveal that the other crime was Section 17-152 of New York’s election law, which makes it a misdemeanor to engage in a conspiracy ‘to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means.'”

Recap:

“To recap, the prosecution involved (1) a misdemeanor elevated to a felony based on an ‘intent to commit another crime,’ (2) an indictment and trial that failed to specify, or present evidence establishing, another crime the defendant intended to commit, and (3) a jury instruction that the other crime was one that necessitated further proof of ‘unlawful means.’ It’s a Russian-nesting-doll theory of criminality: The charged crime hinged on the intent to commit another, unspecified crime, which in turn hinged on the actual commission of yet another unspecified offense,” Rivkin Jr. and Foley stated. (LEARN MORE: Trump Accepts NRA Endorsement, Shares Message To Gun Owners)

It was further argued that Judge Merchan’s actions with the jury were unconstitutional, in directing the them as follows: “Although you must conclude unanimously that the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you need not be unanimous as to what those unlawful means were.”

What Happens Next?

Rivkin Jr. and Foley believe that higher courts will throw out the verdict against Trump. But this is unlikely to occur prior to the 2024 presidential election. “That unfortunate reality will widen America’s political divide and fuel the suspicion that Mr. Trump’s prosecution wasn’t about enforcing the law but wounding a presidential candidate for the benefit of his opponent,” they concluded. (LEARN MORE: Biden Shares Demands For Trump Debates)

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