Left, Brandon Bell/Getty Images. Right, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
- A Manhattan judge is threatening to sanction Donald Trump’s lawyers over ‘frivolous litigation’.
- Justice Arthur Engoron is presiding over the NY attorney general’s case against Trump’s business.
- Last spring, Engoron hit Trump with a $10,000-a-day fine for flouting subpoenas in the same case.
A Manhattan judge is threatening to sanction Donald Trump’s lawyers for filing “frivolous litigation” in the New York attorney general’s $250 million lawsuit against the former president and his New York-based business empire.
The threat against three Trump-defending law firms by New York State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron was revealed in court filings Thursday night.
“This court is considering imposing sanctions for frivolous litigation against attorneys from Habba Madaio & Associates LLP; Continental PLLC; and Robert & Robert PLLC,” the judge said in a January 4 email to all parties in the attorney general’s lawsuit.
The unspecified penalties would punish the three firms for filing motions to dismiss the lawsuit that set forth “the same legal arguments that this court previously rejected,” Engoron wrote. That rejection had come in November, in his denial of Trump’s request for a preliminary injunction halting the attorney general’s lawsuit.
The judge said Trump’s repetitive arguments for dismissal include that New York Attorney General Letitia James does not have legal standing to sue, that her lawsuit is part of a political “witch-hunt,” and that a simple disclaimer — essentially warning lenders to check Trump’s math — gives the former president immunity from James’ fraud claims.
In a response filed Thursday night, the three law firms countered that Engoron’s November rejection of their arguments was “a preliminary finding” and does not preclude them from raising the same arguments now.
The three law firms also said that the judge’s email “provides troublingly little notice and time for counsel to respond.” Engoron had asked the attorney general’s office and Trump’s defense lawyers to respond to his “frivolous litigation” accusation within one day.
In their own response, lawyers for James agreed with the judge, calling Trump’s current dismissal arguments “rehashed” and “calculated to delay the proceedings and needlessly divert the parties’ and the court’s resources.”
Engoron’s email — subject-lined “POTENTIAL SANCTIONS FOR FRIVOLOUS LITIGATION — did not indicate when he will decide on whether to impose sanctions or detail what those sanctions might be.
Engoron has presided since 2021 over James’ probe of Trump’s real-estate and golf-resort empire and her 200-plus-page September lawsuit, which seeks to bar the Trump Organization from doing business in New York due to what she calls a pattern of financial fraud.
The judge has set what he has said is a firm October 2 trial date for the lawsuit.
Engoron is the same judge who, in April, found Trump in contempt of court in the lead up to the lawsuit being filed, for failing to fully comply with the attorney general’s subpoenas for a decade-worth of his personal business documents.
Engoron’s $10,000-a-day non-compliance fine rose to $110,000 by late June when the judge lifted the contempt order.
Ultimately, Trump turned over only 10 personal business documents, though the Trump Organization itself turned over 900,000 documents to James’ probe.