In a recent Newsweek article, Partner Paul Golden explains some of the legal issues surrounding the judge’s ruling on Trump’s business licenses.
Donald Trump’s Businesses Might Not Be Dismantled After All
BY SEAN O’DRISCOLL ON Nov 09, 2023 at 7:58 AM EST
Donald Trump’s lawyers are expected to tell an appeal court on Friday that a lower court judge is time-barred from dismantling the former president’s multi-billion dollar property empire.
The New York Court of Appeals already removed Ivanka Trump as a defendant in the fraud case taken by New York Attorney General Letitia James, citing the statute of limitations. The appeal court has yet to make a decision on Donald Trump, the current frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination, and his sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr.
Arthur Engoron, the judge in Trump’s civil fraud trial, had ordered that Trump’s New York companies be stripped of their corporate certificates and be placed under an independent monitor until receivers could be appointed.
An appeal court has put a partial stay on the order until the full facts can be considered. Trump has denied all wrongdoing in the case.
Real estate attorney Paul Golden, the author of Litigating Constructive Trusts and a partner at New York law firm Coffey Modica told Newsweek that the final outcome of the appeal is difficult to predict.
“It is extremely difficult to read the tea leaves of a partial and temporary stay of enforcement and decipher the ultimate outcome. The defendants may take it as a good sign that the Appellate Division at least issued a partial stay,” Golden said.
“Perhaps that means the defendants will potentially be able to hold onto their businesses. But a partial stay, which may not last much longer, only means so much; the court has not finalized anything; the court may just want to be cautious.”
Newsweek reached out to Trump’s attorney via email for comment.
The appeal court will first decide whether to continue to freeze Engoron’s decision to strip the Trump businesses of their corporate certificates.
That decision is expected any time from Tuesday onwards.
“The court temporarily stayed the enforcement of the order which directed the cancellation of business certificates. The Appellate Division did not stay the appointment of an independent monitor for the entities. The Appellate Division, after November 13, 2023, may revoke the stay, expand the stay, or modify the stay,” Golden said.
He added that the case is unusual.
“The Trump defendants argued that ‘statutory cancellation of an entity’s business certificate and judicial dissolution in an action by the attorney general are exceedingly rare,'” Golden said. “But of course, everything about the case, and everything about the situation, is also unusual, if not unique. The fact that a situation is ‘rare,’ in and of itself, does not help us to determine what the ultimate outcome would be.”
Golden said that any stay put in place by the appeal court will only last until the full appeal court decision is released.
“Even if the stay lasts longer, like until the final resolution of the appeal, it still does not prove that the Appellate Division will ultimately rule in favor of the Trump defendants,” he said.
To win the overall appeal, Trump’s lawyers are banking on similar arguments to those used by Ivanka Trump when the appeal court agreed to remove her from the case.
On Friday, his lawyers will submit legal documents to the appeal court that seek to rebut the New York attorney general’s claim that the case is within the six-year statute of limitations.
“Defendants have to understand that the Appellate Division did not think their initial arguments were strong enough, at that point, to stay the entirety of the trial or stay the appointment of an independent monitor. That may be telling as well,” Golden said.
Trump, his two eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, and The Trump Organization are co-defendants in the civil case brought by James, who is accusing the former president of inflating his net worth by billions of dollars to obtain benefits such as better bank loans and reduced tax bills.
Last month, Engoron ruled that Trump and his adult sons committed fraud in their property evaluations. The court will decide on six other accusations, including falsifying business records, insurance fraud, and conspiracy claims. Engoron himself will rule on the charges, as Trump’s legal team did not opt for a jury trial.