Judge who once did legal work for Trump can continue in criminal case
Written by ABC Audio ALL RIGHTS RESERVED on June 5, 2023
(NEW YORK) — Neither former President Trump nor Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg object to Judge Alvin Hellerstein presiding over a matter related to Trump’s criminal prosecution, the two sides indicated Monday in separate letters to the court.
Hellerstein revealed last week that he had once performed legal work for a Trump entity in the 1990s while in private practice but said he did not believe that would affect his impartiality. He retired from the firm in 1998.
“After considering Your Honor’s letter, and consulting with our client, we agree with Your Honor’s conclusion that the prior work does not provide any basis for a recusal in this matter,” defense attorney Todd Blanche wrote.
“The People believe that the circumstances identified by the Court do not present any appearance of impropriety, reason to question the Court’s impartiality, or other basis for recusal,” assistant district attorney Matthew Colangelo wrote.
On June 27 Hellerstein will hear oral arguments to decide whether to move Trump’s criminal prosecution to federal court, where he has argued it belongs since the alleged crimes occurred while he was president.
Prosecutors oppose the move, arguing the charged conduct had nothing to do with the presidency.
In his letter to Trump’s attorneys and the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Hellerstein said he once performed legal work for Trump Equitable Fifth Ave as a partner at a Stroock Stroock Lavan.
“In my opinion, my impartiality cannot reasonably be questioned and no appearance of impropriety exists,” Hellerstein wrote.
Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection to a hush payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election.
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