The Trump Show: A Separate Reality

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I have spent my professional life in and around courtrooms.

The Court system has a simple, clear, and traditional way to deal with litigants who reject its authority, reject the good faith of its prosecutors, and reject the fairness of its judges or elected officials. So, how does the system respond? With predictable results. The system’s only response to an out-of-control litigant is to exercise its levers of power or control. That Trump cannot or will not see this is comical since he was in the seat of power once. I expect that Trump’s business will be dealt a death blow. That is the only way the judicial system can respond to this nonsense.

It is difficult to convey how outside the mainstream Trump and his lawyers’ presentation of their case has been to non-lawyers or non-litigators. Obviously, what he is doing is not normal behavior. A person involved in a lawsuit, a party, calling the process, the prosecutor, and the judge a fraud or worse is simply outrageous. Amusingly, his lawyers seem to be doing little to prevent his antics. I have to assume that they know that there is little they can do to control Trump and he is going to do what he wants to do regardless of their advice. They are getting paid and whether they are good or bad lawyers does not seem to matter very much in this case. I have two quick pieces of analysis that have not been broached on the endless shows focused on Trump’s civil case.

First, I cringe when I see Attorney Habba outside of court criticizing the judge and the process. Whether she is experienced in litigation or not, criticizing the court and the process is a rapid way to the disciplinary board and suspension of your law license. I would guess that her client requires her to go outside and bash the judge to the press to please her client. But, it is a quick way to have your license suspended. Since she is a New York barred attorney, getting your license suspended in New York is probably not too wise. Amusingly, this ain’t the TV show Suits.

Second, every time I see this sort of behavior, it does not end well for the offending party. Trump is going to get his ass handed to him by this Judge. He will get a huge fine, will have his New York business gutted or sold off and there will be very little appellate grounds to stop this sort of thing. In my world, whether you say it’s a death of 1000 cuts or giving the defendant all the rope he needs to hang himself, the outcome is the same.

One situation comes to mind that is not similar but is instructive. There is a grass roots movement of clowns who claim to be sovereign citizens and not obligated to follow the laws of the US Government or the states. When stopped by police they invoke this nonsense and are rightfully prosecuted or punished. Another similar group in New York and potentially elsewhere is the Moors. They are a grass roots group that rejects the authority of the courts over them. The Moors were an amusing nuisance in New York’s criminal courts. They would periodically get picked up for minor offenses, would spout their nonsense about rejecting the authority of the Court and promptly find themselves handcuffed and in prison for far longer than had they said they were sorry. Trump’s hubris makes this same outcome very likely. Why would a judge give him a break? It is time for the system to take back its respectability with its verdict. Politics will view the decision based on your political view, but Trump’s business is toast. To think otherwise is fantasyland thinking.

A courtroom sketch of Donald Trump on the witness stand on Monday © Elizabeth Williams/AP