We are hopeful that Monday’s decision by 5 judges of a Manhattan NYS appellate court slowing down the case against Donald Trump brought by NY Attorney General Letitia James will usher in a period of relative calm after the vendetta-like, rush to judgment atmosphere that has characterized the case since its commencement. Indeed, the case was brought in September 2022 and decided a little more than a month ago, on February 16, 2024. Surely, we have had enough erosion of public confidence in our courts. It is not hyperbole to suggest that right now, Donald Trump is likely viewed by half of the country as a Democratic pin cushion.

The appellate court delayed enforcement of a lower trial court $464 million judgment against Trump – unprecedented for a private company – as long as he puts up $175 million dollars within 10 days to guarantee payment if he loses his current appeal. Under the trial court’s decision, which found him guilty of civil fraud, having conspired to inflate his net worth to reap favorable loans and other financial benefits, Trump would have been required to come up with approximately $557 million as security by March 25 or AG James would be authorized to start seizing Trump assets to satisfy the judgment. Litigants are typically required to lodge security with the court to guarantee payment in order to appeal lower court judgments. Trump had said that the $500 million was beyond his reach either in terms of his private assets or what a bonding company would be prepared to extend.


To be sure, it is not clear whether an earlier emergency order of a single appellate judge staying the lower court’s prohibiting Trump from running his businesses or to obtain loans from a New York bank was incorporated in the current order.

However, he could still be on the hook for the full amount if he abandons the appeal, or how he wins or loses it. It is noteworthy though, that there is a rule of thumb that appellate courts are loathe to reverse lower court decisions in advance of an appeal, unless they believe there is a likelihood of the appellants success on the merits.

At all events, the perception that all – even the most controversial and threatening litigants among us – will get a fair shake in our courts, is a crucial one.

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