Stefanik's ethics complaint might not stick but at least somebody is punching back

Stefanik's ethics complaint might not stick but at least somebody is punching back

Judge Arthur Engoron

Stefanik's ethics complaint might not stick but at least somebody is punching back

A legal expert says Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s effort to confront a controversial New York judge may be largely symbolic in the liberal blue state but sometimes symbolism is enough.

Stefanik, a New York Republican, filed an ethics complaint last week against Judge Arthur Engoron for what she called “clear judicial bias” in his handling in the fraud trial of former president Donald Trump.

In a letter to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, Stefanik wrote the judge’s "bizarre behavior has no place in our judicial system, where Judge Engoron is not honoring the defendant’s rights to due process and a fair trial.”

Stefanik, Rep. Elise (R-New York) Stefanik

Stefanik said the concerns are serious and are amplified as Trump seeks the 2024 GOP nomination.

“I really want to commend Congressman Elise Stefanik for filing this judicial ethics complaint against Judge Engoron," Mike Davis, Article III Project founder and president, said on American Family Radio Monday. 

Davis, an attorney, has learned the ins and outs of Washington, D.C. after working for all three branches of the federal government. Before founding the Article III Project, he served as chief counsel for nominations when Sen. Chuck Grassley chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“We see a lot of people go on Twitter and pretend to complain about this Democrat weaponization of our legal system against Trump; Trump's aides; Trump's supporters; Christians praying outside of abortion clinics; parents outraged by gender chaos and the resulting rapes in high school bathrooms," Davis told show host Jenna Ellis. "But we don't see a lot of these members of Congress doing anything about it."

According to reporting by The Hill, Stefanik’s letter discussed Engoron’s principal law clerk at length as it detailed Allison Greenfield’s contributions to Democratic donors.

Greenfield’s contributions exceeded the legal limit but Trump's attorneys, after pointing that out, were hit with a gag order from Judge Engoron. That gag order, Davis told Ellis, is a violation of Trump's First Amendment rights. 

Davis, Mike (Article III Project) Davis

"This is right out of the playbook of a Third World Marxist hellhole dictator. This is unacceptable," Davis complained. "

There are other means available to Engoron to maintain order in his courtroom if he feels Trump is out of line, Davis said.

“If President Trump were obstructing justice by criticizing the judge or the prosecutor, or the staff, or the process, charge him with obstruction of justice," Davis suggested. "But don't impose any illegal prior restraints on his First Amendment rights through these unprecedented gag orders that Democrat judges started imposing on conservatives during the Trump era.”

The public also learned last week that Dawn Engoron, the wife of Judge Engoron, is accused of posting numerous anti-Trump tweets on a Twitter account including one about him appearing before her husband. She denied to Newsweek the account "Dawn Marie" belongs to her, which could raise ethical questions for her husband. That account has gone from a public account to a private account. 

Andrew Stanton, the Newsweek reporter who wrote that story, has moved his Twitter account to private, too.

Ethics complaint unlikely to stick

Davis predicted Stefanik’s complaint won't cause ethical or legal problems for Engoron because New York's court system is "so far gone to left-wing Democrats,” but he is hopeful the State of New York will consider long-range implications of the judge’s behavior.

“Here's the consequence of this that New York needs to think about: Sure, they feel like they're getting Trump and they're trying to destroy his business and bankrupt him, and throw him in prison in New York," Davis observed. "What do they think other business people, other job creators, are going to do when they sit back and say, ‘Wait a second. If you run a business in New York, if you get your wires crossed with your political opponents who run the political machine in New York, they can bankrupt you and throw you in jail.'"