Despite having lost most of his New York civil fraud trial before it began, lawyers for Donald Trump have resorted to trying legal maneuvers that have confounded legal experts. Last week, according to The Daily Beast, the former president’s defense asked the judge for a “directed verdict,” which is essentially an outright victory that brings the case to a close. In the legal world, it’s a longshot request that rarely works, and in Trump’s case it’s even less likely to succeed — last Tuesday’s ask was the third in this trial from his attorneys.
“Three times is excessive. I think they’re just taking a shot in the dark here. It just sounds like a ‘Hail Mary’ pass,” Carolyn E. Demarest, a retired state judge, told the Daily Beast. She added that she couldn’t recall a single time she granted such a request in her nearly 35-year tenure. The New York Attorney General’s lawsuit against Trump, which seeks to punish him for exaggerating his assets on official documents for years, began in October and is almost over, with just days to go. The former president’s legal team has stunned presiding Judge Arthur Engoron in court by asking him to throw out the entire case, requests that have at times sparked muted laughter in the courtroom.
Alan Davis Marrus, another former state judge, told the Daily Beast the request isn’t “unethical or improper” on its own, but that Trump’s lawyers’ multiple requests make even less sense given that the judge concluded before the trial that he is liable for fraud. “It’s a show trial. He’s already found the guy liable,” Marrus said. “That a trial like this would take so long is really the shocking thing. This is petty stuff that they’re asking for a directed verdict.”