‘Kangaroo Court’: Denying Mistrial Over Stormy Daniels’ Testimony Is One Of Many Mistakes By Judge, Legal Experts Say

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Stormy Daniels’ detailed testimony about her alleged affair with former President Donald Trump should have been grounds for a mistrial, legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Judge Juan Merchan denied two motions for a mistrial raised by Trump’s defense attorneys last week in response to Daniels’ testimony, in which they argued many questions prosecutors asked her were irrelevant and only presented to “inflame the jury.” Merchan’s decision was just one of many mistakes he has made, lawyers and former federal prosecutors told the Daily Caller News Foundation, noting that it could be grounds for overturning a potential guilty verdict on appeal.

Merchan’s decision not to grant a mistrial was not surprising given that he “green-lit her testimony in the first place” and “rubber stamped the prosecution’s absurd theory which fails to even identify what crime is purportedly at the heart of the case against President Trump,” former federal prosecutor Joseph Moreno told the DCNF.

Merchan denied a request by Trump’s attorneys in March to prevent Daniels from testifying. When denying their first request for a mistrial last week, he said many of the details Daniels recounted would have been better left “unsaid,” though he noted the defense could have raised more objections.

“It is obvious that to camouflage this glaring gap in his case, Bragg is using the lurid details of the alleged tryst to sully Trump’s image in the hopes of turning the jury against him,” he said. “After twice rejecting the defense’s objections to Daniels’ appearing on the stand, Merchan’s later admonition that the defense did not object enough during her testimony is a laughable attempt to protect himself against future appellate scrutiny.”

Trump faces 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying business records to reimburse his former attorney Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment made to keep Daniels’ quiet about her claims of an affair ahead of the 2016 election. To charge the crimes as a felony, Bragg alleged they were done to conceal or commit another crime, which was not specified in the indictment.

Prosecutors have been seeking to prove through witness testimony that the payment to Daniels was part of a broader “conspiracy” Trump was engaged in to influence the 2016 election.

Hans​​​​ von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, told the DCNF that Daneils’ testimony was “unneeded and irrelevant to the case,” noting that its only purpose was to “blacken the character of Trump in the eyes of the jury and prejudice their verdict.”

“The focus of the prosecutor’s charges is the claim that the $130,000 settlement payment to Daniels should have been listed as a campaign-related expense rather than a legal expense,” he said. “No one is denying that the payment was made or why it was made or the details of the payments, including the nondisclosure agreement; that has all been established by prior witnesses including Daniel’s lawyer, and Trump’s lawyers are not contesting that the payment was made or what it was for.”

“The details of what happened between them has no bearing on whether this was a campaign-related expense or a legal expense,” he continued.

Daniels admitted during her testimony that she had no direct knowledge of Trump’s involvement in the payment she received.

Von Spakovsky said the decision not to grant a mistrial was “just one of the numerous mistakes this biased judge, who demonstrates every day in the courtroom that he is a political hack, has made that should allow the appeals court to quickly overturn any verdict against Trump.”

“The term kangaroo court comes to mind,” former federal prosecutor Francey Hakes told the DCNF.

Hakes said the court is “not operating on any legal principles” she is familiar with, noting ethical prosecutors “know they have to be very careful not to elicit this sort of testimony because they are trying hard to protect the record and preserve the conviction they worked so hard to obtain.” (RELATED: Stormy Daniels’ Admission On Witness Stand Sheds Light On Why Alvin Bragg Had Her Testify Against Trump)

“There is no way a jury would fail to be swayed by the glaring character attack on Trump, so it should not have been allowed,”  she said. “On appeal (if we get there), the Court of Appeals will view her entire testimony as having been objected to by the defense.”

“Our only hope is that the jury sees through this charade,” Moreno told the DCNF.

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