Written by Ashton Snyder on
 May 23, 2024

Judge Accused Of Limiting Expert Witness In Trump’s Trial

The judge in former President Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial has restricted the testimony of an election law expert, provoking claims of bias. 

According to the Epoch Times, Brad Smith, formerly the chair of the Federal Election Commission and a nominee of President Bill Clinton, commented on social media on May 20 about the constraints Judge Juan Merchan imposed on his testimony.

Smith alleged that these restrictions prompted Trump's defense team to forgo calling him as a witness. According to Smith, Judge Merchan permitted Michael Cohen to testify in detail regarding the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), but Smith was not allowed to do the same.

Expert Elects Not To Testify

On May 20, Judge Merchan ruled that Smith could testify but was limited in scope, precluding him from interpreting legal provisions or offering opinions on whether Trump’s actions violated the law. Merchan emphasized that allowing Smith to delineate terms within federal election law would breach guidelines that restrict expert witnesses from legal interpretation.

Judge Merchan contended that Smith’s contribution might result in a contentious expert dispute, potentially confusing the jury. Trump accused the judge of intentionally blocking Smith’s testimony because it would purportedly indicate no wrongdoing on Trump's part.

Trump's legal team initially sought Smith’s expertise in election law, believing it would be a valuable defense. Smith commented that despite understanding the judge’s position on providing legal instructions to the jury, he felt disadvantaged compared to Cohen’s extensive testimony on FECA.

Trump And Defense Raise Concerns

Speaking about the complexity of election law, Smith recalled how Antonin Scalia, a late Supreme Court Justice, once remarked on the intricate nature of campaign finance legislation. This complexity, Smith argued, necessitated expert interpretation for thorough understanding.

Trump referenced Smith as the preeminent expert in election law, comparing him to prestigious car brands for emphasis. He believed the judge obstructed the testimony because it would have favored his defense, a claim reiterated by Trump lawyer Emil Bove.

Prosecutors accuse Trump of falsifying business records linked to a payment scheme during the 2016 campaign to meddle with election outcomes. The defense and prosecution have completed presenting their cases, with the judge dismissing the jury until closing arguments set for May 28.

Closing Arguments Approaching

Notably, Trump refrained from testifying, a common strategy in similar trials. The absence of Smith’s testimony has been a significant point of contention for Trump’s legal team throughout the proceedings.

The trial has drawn comments from Trump allies, including Donald Trump Jr., who branded the legal proceedings a “sham” during a press conference on May 21. Trump Jr. criticized the alleged lack of justification for blocking Smith’s testimony, echoing broader criticism from the Trump camp.

Smith noted the judge’s reluctance to let him elucidate the law to the jury was somewhat understandable. Yet, he highlighted the disparity between his blocked testimony and Cohen’s allowed testimony, which, in his view, left the jury with a skewed understanding of FECA.

In summary, the allegations of biased restrictions on expert testimony have added a layer of controversy to Trump’s trial. As the case nears its closing arguments, the impact of Smith's absence remains a focal point of discussion.

Attorneys on both sides are preparing for the final phase of the trial, where the arguments about judicial impartiality and fair trial procedures will likely be revisited. The jury’s return on May 28 marks a critical juncture in this high-profile case.

Author Image

About Ashton Snyder

Independent conservative news without a leftist agenda.
© 2024 - American Tribune - All rights reserved
Privacy Policy