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The trial is the first of Trump’s four criminal indictments slated to go to trial and would be the first criminal trial ever of a former president. Alamy Stock Photo
New York

Appeals court judge rejects Trump’s last-ditch bid to delay his hush-money trial

The trial is set to begin on 15 April.

A NEW YORK appeals court judge has rejected former US president Donald Trump’s request to delay his 15 April hush-money criminal trial while he fights to move the case out of Manhattan.

The decision came on Monday, a week before jury selection was set to start.

Trump’s lawyers had argued at an emergency hearing that the trial should be postponed while they seek a change of venue to move it out of heavily Democratic Manhattan.

Justice Lizbeth Gonzalez of the state’s mid-level appeals court made her ruling after an emergency hearing where Trump’s lawyers asked to postpone the trial indefinitely while they seek the change of venue.

Trump was seeking an emergency stay, a court order that would prevent the trial from starting on time.

The hush-money trial is the first of Trump’s four criminal indictments slated to go to trial and would be the first criminal trial ever of a former president.

Trump lawyer Emil Bove argued that the presumptive Republican nominee faces “real potential prejudice” as a defendant in heavily Democratic Manhattan. Citing defence surveys and a review of media coverage, Bove argued that jury selection, scheduled to start next Monday, “cannot proceed in a fair manner”.

Steven Wu, appellate chief for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, noted that trial Judge Juan M Merchan had already rejected Trump’s requests to move or delay the trial as untimely.

“The question in this case is not whether a random poll of New Yorkers from whatever neighbourhood are able to be impartial, it’s about whether a trial court is able to select a jury of 12 impartial jurors,” Wu said.

He blamed Trump for stoking pretrial publicity with “countless media appearances talking about the facts of this case, the witnesses, and so on”.

In a separate appellate matter, Trump’s lawyers are also challenging a gag order imposed on him in the case, which Judge Merchan recently expanded to prohibit Trump from making comments about the judge’s family.

The appeals court signaled it would take up that matter at a later date.

Paperwork relating to Trump’s appeals were placed under seal and not publicly available.

Trump had pledged to appeal after Merchan ruled last month that the trial would begin 15 April. His lawyers had pleaded to delay the trial at least until summer to give them more time to review late-arriving evidence from a prior federal investigation into the matter.

Judge Merchan, who had already moved the trial from its original 25 March start date because of the evidence issue, said no further delays were warranted.

Press Association