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Trump asks judge overseeing N.Y. civil fraud trial to recuse himself

New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron is shown during an appearance by former President Donald Trump in the court room in week three of his civil fraud trial at State Supreme Court on Tuesday, October 18, 2023 in New York City. Trump lawyers asked for Engoron's recusal in current civil fraud case. Pool Photo by Jeenah Moon/UPI
New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron is shown during an appearance by former President Donald Trump in the court room in week three of his civil fraud trial at State Supreme Court on Tuesday, October 18, 2023 in New York City. Trump lawyers asked for Engoron's recusal in current civil fraud case. Pool Photo by Jeenah Moon/UPI | License Photo

June 20 (UPI) -- The legal team for Donald Trump on Thursday asked the New York judge who ordered the former president to pay $364 million in penalties for financial fraud to recuse himself from the case.

Trump's legal team has accused Judge Arthur Engoron Engoron of "engaging in prohibited communications" with a real estate attorney ahead of final judgment.

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If no recusal is awarded, the legal team asked for the court to grant an expedited hearing on the issues in the case.

That real estate attorney, Adam Bailey, said he offered advice to Engoron well before the judge made his decision simply because he wanted the judge to know his position on the matter.

"I wanted him to know what I think and why," Bailey said in an interview, adding "because I really want him to get it right."

Bailey represented a group of condo buyers who sued Trump for fraud in 2010, saying Trump exaggerated the value of the property.

Bailey, who has no connection to any of Trump's current criminal cases, said he was not prompted by the judge for any opinion and offered solely on his own.

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While there is no connection to Trump's current legal challenges, the former president's lawyers say the very fact that Engoron is overseeing the case and has heard from an attorney associated with past Trump cases sets up a conflict of interest and calls into questions Engoron's ability to be impartial in the civil fraud case.

"It is beyond dispute that neither defendants nor the attorney general were present during the purported communication with Mr. Bailey," Trump's lawyers wrote.

"Nor did this court ever notify either party that the purported communication took place, which would have at least permitted an opportunity for comment on the substance of the conversation, as conveyed by this court.

"Worse yet, Mr. Bailey's account indicates that this court not only permitted but welcomed such prohibited communication," the filing says.

Engoron has said Bailey's comments have not influenced him in this case, but the conversation has prompted a state judicial conduct investigation.

Engoron ordered Trump, his companies and fellow defendants to pay nearly $364 million over his business practices in February. Trump appealed.

Engoron required a court-appointed independent monitor overseeing the Trump Organization's finances continue in the role for at least three years.

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