The group of consumers leading the class action over Trump University’s, allegedly, fraudulent real estate seminars recently urged a California federal judge to not push back the trial scheduled for later this month until after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, fighting claims that forcing him to stand trial right now would interfere with “imperative transition work.” After years of litigation, it’s long past time for these allegations of fraud to go to trial, plaintiffs Sonny Low, J.R. Everett and John Brown argued, asking the court to reject Trump’s Saturday request to postpone the proceedings, slated to begin Nov. 28, until after the real estate developer, reality television star and now president-elect takes office.
The consumers went on to say that they “have waited more than six and a half years for their day in court, and it would be an injustice to them and undermine the independence and truth-seeking function of the judiciary to ask them to wait until Trump assumes office and the demands of the presidency turn from mere preparation to actual practice”.
Following his historic presidential victory, Trump asked the court to further delay his trial (which was already moved to accommodate the election). The president-elect contended that the next couple of months would be “critical and all-consuming,” as they’d require him him to receive daily security briefings, make thousands of executive appointments and establish relationships with key players both domestically and abroad — all while developing policy priorities.
Trump went on to argue that he has the right to defend himself, which includes testifying on his own behalf, and shouldn’t be required to stand trial while he prepares to assume the presidency, which he calls a “momentous” and “exceedingly complex” task.
“In fewer than three months, the president-elect must be prepared to manage 15 executive departments, more than 100 federal agencies, 2 million civilian employees and a budget of almost $4 trillion,” the ex parte application reads. “He needs to devote this intensive period to transitioning the vast functions of the federal government to an administration that has yet to be formed.”
Law 360 states that the brief cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision that forced former President Bill Clinton to deal with a sexual harassment accuser’s lawsuit while in office. The justices said the president wasn’t entitled to a stay until his term ended but made it clear that they expected district courts to accommodate his needs and “giv[e] the utmost deference to presidential responsibilities,” according to Trump.
The consumers countered Monday that the president-elect’s reasoning for delaying the process isn’t sufficient. He has already provided more than 10 hours of video-recorded sworn testimony, and there’s no reason to think he has any more admissible testimony to offer, let alone testimony that would leave him prejudiced if he couldn’t present it at trial, they argued.
“The legal standard for moving a trial date is the same for defendant Trump, candidate Trump and President-elect Trump: he must establish good cause,” the consumers said. “Because President-elect Trump has failed to suggest, let alone establish, a single admissible fact that he will be unable to present at the currently scheduled trial, he has failed to establish good cause for delay.” Later adding, “Trump’s life is only going to get more complicated and unpredictable as time goes by,” stating that any more delay would begin a domino effect.
“We’ve been waiting six and a half years to go to trial, and if he wants to come, great. If not, he can use his depo,” the plaintiff’s attorney said.
The case stems from the allegations that the now-defunct company used the “Apprentice” star’s image and reputation to sell the brand, saying he had “hand-picked” instructors for the real estate classes and purporting to sell his secrets to achieving wealth. The alleged deception lured people into paying as much as $35,000.
Moreover, you may also recall that on the campaign trail, Trump famously stated that Judge Curiel, who was born in Indiana to parents of Mexican heritage, cannot judge the case impartially because of Trump’s admitted hostility toward Mexican immigrants in the U.S. without legal authorization. Trump had sought to exclude statements he made during his campaign and elsewhere from the trial, but Judge Curiel rejected the request Thursday.
And so it goes…