January 2024 – High-profile New York lawyer advises judge in Trump civil fraud case; triggers New York State Rules of Judicial Conduct investigation

In Email/Dossier/Govt Corruption Investigations by Katie Weddington

A high-profile New York real estate lawyer, whose law license was once suspended, said he approached the judge presiding over Donald Trump’s civil fraud case to offer unsolicited advice about a law at issue in the case.

Attorney Adam Leitman Bailey made the claim during an interview with NBC New York, saying he spoke to Judge Arthur Engoron three weeks prior to the judge’s February decision to fine the former president $454 million for falsely inflating the value of his assets.

New York suspended real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey from practicing law for four months in April 2019. (Credit: Facebook)

The judge, through a court spokesman, denied impropriety and said he was “wholly uninfluenced” by Mr. Bailey. New York’s judicial oversight body has now launched an investigation into the alleged interaction, according to sources familiar with the matter.

“I actually had the ability to speak to him three weeks ago,” Bailey said, during an on-camera interview with NBC New York on Feb. 16, the day the judge’s decision was due. “I saw him in the corner [at the courthouse] and I told my client, ‘I need to go.’ And I walked over and we started talking … I wanted him to know what I think and why…I really want him to get it right.”

NBC New York asked a spokesman for Engoron whether the judge had spoken with Bailey about any legal issues surrounding the Trump civil fraud matter, and whether the alleged interaction had been appropriate.

“No ex parte conversation concerning this matter occurred between Justice Engoron and Mr. Bailey or any other person. The decision Justice Engoron issued February 16 was his alone, was deeply considered, and was wholly uninfluenced by this individual,” said Al Baker, a spokesman for the New York State’s Office of Court Administration, in a written statement

In legalese, the term “ex parte” describes a communication between a party or their legal counsel and a judge about a pending case without all the parties present.

Bailey, who said he is no fan of Trump, was not involved in the civil case and is not connected to any of the four separate criminal cases against the former president. He said he knows the judge from having appeared before him as a litigant “hundreds of times.”

Bailey said he “explained to him” that a fraud statute at issue in the case was not intended to be used to shut down a major company, especially in a case without clear victims. He said such a ruling would hurt New York’s economy. Engoron had rejected a similar argument raised by the Trump team in court.

“He had a lot of questions, you know, about certain cases. We went over it,” Bailey said.

(…) State legal conduct rules govern interactions with judges about their pending cases outside of official courtroom proceedings.

The New York State Rules of Judicial Conduct state that “a judge shall not initiate, permit, or consider ex parte communications, or consider other communications made to the judge outside the presence of the parties or their lawyers.” The rules do allow an exception to “obtain the advice of a disinterested expert,” if a judge gives notice to the parties in the case and gives them the opportunity to respond. (Read more: NBC New York, 5/08/2024)  (Archive)