Pres. Trump brought some unusual experience to the office of the President of the United States. He filed over 3,500 lawsuits during his career in business. That is an astounding number. Periodically, I look for prior lawsuits regarding different organizations. I am sure I have never seen more than ten lawsuits for any one organization, whether that organization was a government agency or a business. James D. Zinn’s has written a book about Pres. Trump and his lawsuits, titled Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits.

As the author explains in his book, Donald Trump sued for myriad reasons. He filed suits for business advantage, for sport, to achieve control, at the drop of a hat, and to destroy or silence his opponents.  Pres. Trump displayed little respect for the law in his lawsuits, says the author. He scorned the law and the legal process.

James Zinn knew Roy Cohn, a mentor to Donald Trump. Mr. Zinn characterizes Mr. Cohn as an unscrupulous lawyer. Cohn was disbarred in 1986. Mr. Cohn taught Trump how to weaponize the law.

Mr. Zinn discussed one example of Trump’s litigation tactics. In 1983, he was sued because he hired undocumented Polish workers for Trump Tower. Mr. Trump did not contribute to the union pension fund for the Polish workers, as he was required to do. The case eventually settled for 100 cents on the dollar after protracted litigation and after a trial in which the judge said Mr. Trump’s testimony was completely lacking in credibility. The settlement was sealed, another common Trump tactic. Twenty years later, the settlement was unsealed. See ABA Bar Journal report here.

It is quite rare to seal a settlement. It is just as rare for a judge to comment publicly on the credibility of a witness. And, have to add, I am sure that as a lawyer in my third decade of practicing law, I have not participated in 3,500 lawsuits, or 2,500.

Be Safe.

Wow, I am speechless. In a 2013 interview, Donald Trump, Jr. said women who cannot handle life in a big corporation should go teach kindergarten. He was speaking about sexual harassment in the workforce. According to the Huffingtonpost report. First, as the proud parent of two sons, I have spent my share of time with kindergarteners. That is no easy task. But, really, women should be able to “handle” sexual harassment? That is wrong on so many levels. How does a woman “handle” it when she is held to higher standards and only finds out about those higher sales goals when she is being escorted out the door? How does a woman “handle” it when she is fired while out on pregnancy leave? How does anyone “handle” it when upper management engages in biased evaluations of your work?

What to think about a young man who has those views at such an early age? We are accustomed to older men holding onto out-dated views. Perhaps, those views are not as out-dated as we would wish.

Donald Trump makes racist comments about Hispanics and seems to suffer no repercussions. He is set to host Saturday Night Live on Nov. 7. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has asked NBC to rescind the invitation to Mr. Trump to host SNL. See CBS news report. If this were a lawsuit, his remarks about Hispanics immigrants bringing disease would be very good evidence of racial bias. Yet, here he is hosting one of the most popular shows in the country. You gotta love this election season. And, you know, I bet I find myself watching the train wreck myself….

Donald Trump, who apparently has a reputation for saying strange things, has said Sen. McCain was not a war hero because he was captured. Later, he qualified his comments, saying the senator was a hero but suggesting that being captured diminished his service. His comments are beyond silly. Donald Trump never served. He is far from an expert on military service. According to one report, Donald Trump received five deferments during the Viet Nam War. See ABC news report regarding some of his deferments.

And, I have to say, anyone who did time in a Vietnamese POW camp or in a Japanese POW camp served far above the normal requirements of military service. See CBS news report. And, as most folks probably know, John McCain performed better than most in those camps. He could have left the camp much sooner than he did. He chose to remain imprisoned because he refused preferential treatment based on his father being an Admiral at the time.

To use Sen. McCain’s words regarding Ted Cruz a couple of years ago, Donald Trump is a wacko bird.

I previously wrote a post about emotional outbursts at trial here. Emotional reactions to testimony are strictly forbidden in every courtroom. Donald Trump has managed to get away – sort of – with some outbursts. But, this will not last.

Apparently, Me. Trump decided to attend his civil fraud trial in New York when an important witness was set to testify. Doug Larson was an outside appraiser employed by a bank in 2013. His testimony concerned who at the Trump organization told him what and what he did regarding the value of 40 Wall Street, a major Trump property. Mr. Larson testified that he did not include capitalization rates when he appraised the building for a bank. The Trump lawyer, Lazaro Fields believed he had caught the appraiser in a lie. Mr. Fields shouted the follow-on question, “You lied yesterday, didn’t you?”


Allowing for some hyperbole by the news reporter, perhaps Mr. Fields did not actually shout? But, even so, that sort of grand-standing follow-on question is… well …. grand standing. There are less confrontational ways to ask the same question. And, since this is a non-jury trial, courtroom antics do not go over well with any judge. [But, to be fair, Fields’ courtroom antics may have been directed to his client, not the judge].

The other other Trump lawyer, Christopher Kise then stood up and talking apparently to the court, said the witness has rights and that he should be cautioned about perjury. [It is odd when a second lawyer interjects regarding a witness. Many judges will not allow it. It may be that Judge Engoron has so many issues to deal with that he must pick his battles.]

The AG lawyer then stood to object to the obvious witness intimidation tactics. Judge Engoron then asked the bailiff to escort the witness out of the courtroom. The Judge then asked both sides to calm down.

More Shouting

But, Kise continued to “shout” that the witness had changed his testimony. Donald Trump nodded his head in agreement. A second AG lawyer then stood, and half facing the audience, comprised of many reporters, said this was a nice “performance” for the press. Mr. Kise responded that he was not a government lawyer, he truly cared for the rights of witnesses. [you can’t make this stuff up!]

At that point, the Judge had enough. He said he wanted the witnesses to testify without disruptions. If Mr. Larson perjured himself, then he perjured himself. Judge Engoron meant that for purposes of today’s proceedings, it does not make a difference if the witness lied. Nothing changes. Any accusations of perjury would have to be made later in a different forum. Mr. Kise surely knows that, already.

The witness, Doug Larson, was then brought back into the courtroom. He resumed his testimony. At which point, Mr. Fields was again shouting that he had lied the day before. More objections, and finally the witness was allowed to proceed with his testimony.

And, outside the courtroom, Mr. Trump asserted that this sort of thing could not go on.

In most trials, it would be major deal if a lawyer shouted or engaged in obvious attempts to intimidate a witness. That Judge Engoron has, so far refrained from coming down on the Trump lawyers reflects the high profile nature of this trial and the likelihood that they want to antagonize the Judge. At some point, the Judge will crack down on there theatrics. See Business Insider report for more information here.

Be Respectful

P.S. A day later, Christopher Kise, while engaging in a discussion with the Judge, was asked a question by the Judge’s female law clerk. Mr. Kise ignored her. The law clerk asked again. Kise, then snapped that he was talking only to the Judge. As the side bar discussion progressed, Kise poked fun at the AG attorney Colleen Flaherty’s intelligence. Ms. Flaherty told him to be respectful. Kise replied, “No.” [does he want to win his trial?] Later, the Judge made Mr. Kise apologize to the female law clerk and Ms. Flaherty.

Donald Trump and his family are on trial for allegedly defrauding banks and businesses. Judge Engoron has already granted summary judgment against the Trumps. That means he has ruled there is no genuine issue f fact such that a jury is needed. The only remaining issue is damages.

Mr. Trump was upset that there was no just to decide this matter. Indeed, Trump has been vilifying the judge for weeks. It is basic Litigation 101 that we should not antagonize the person(s) who will decide our fate. But, there is no jury. There has not been a jury involved in this lawsuit for some time. Some observers blame Trump’s lawyers for not checking a box. What happened?

Equitable Relief

It seems the law on which the lawsuit is based, known as Sec. 63(12) of the New York Executive Law does not address juries. Juries are not prohibited and neither are they specifically provided for. New York caselaw does prohibit juries when equitable relief is sought. Equitable relief refers to what the plaintiff is seeking. The plaintiff in this case is the state of New York via Attorney General Letitia James. AG James sought equitable relief, not relief specifically provided for in a statute or written law.

For example, when a person is inured in a car wreck, she can ask for certain things specifically provided for in a statute: medical expenses, emotional suffering type damages and punitive damages. And, lawyers also add a fourth category of damages known as “equitable relief.” Equitable relief means whatever the judge thinks is fair. In AG James’ lawsuit, she is seeking only equitable relief. She is only seeking what the Judge thinks is fair. But, her lawsuit suggests some things for the Judge to consider, such as “disgorgement.” Disgorgement means disgorge the ill-gotten gains.

Trump’s lawyers could have requested a jury, knowing they would have to litigate and probably appeal that issue. But, they chose not to. Mr. Trump complains that it is not fair that his case will not be decided by a jury – perhaps because he now realizes too late that the Judge he has excoriated will soon decide his fate. But, his real beef is with his lawyers, not with the court. See ABA Bar Journal report for more information here.

Of course, another tack would be to simply stay away from fraud or the appearance of fraud. But, that would require Mr. Trump to accept some responsibility for his actions.

Once again, Trump lawyers give us a master class in how not to litigate. Donald Trump was sued in New York civil district court for civil fraud. Attorney General James claimed the Trumps perpetrated fraud among lenders when they vastly overstated the value of their holdings. A couple of days ago, the judge presiding over that case, Judge Engoron issued his decision on AG James’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. The Judge granted AG James’ motion. That is an astounding result for such a high profile lawsuit. That summary judgment was granted indicates the Defendant’s case was weak. It is exceedingly rare for a high profile defendant to not settle a weak claim.

In any event, summary (i.e. “quick” or without a jury) judgment was granted. In his ruling, Judge Engoron expressed deep annoyance with the advocacy of the Trump lawyers. You know things are starting badly when the Judge titles the first section “Arguments Defendants Raise Again.” This should be Advocacy 101, but you should never press a failed argument a second time. But, here, the Trump lawyers have gone second and third times with the same, failed argument. The Judge refers to the Movie, “Groundhog Day” when he addresses yet again the frivolous argument that Trump’s Financial statements have a disclaimer that they should not be relied on. Indeed, Donald Trump himself often points to that disclaimer in his many comments about this case.

Yet Again

But, as the Judge pointed out, the disclaimer does not absolve Donald Trump, since the financial statements also state that Donald Trump is responsible for the representations contained in those statements. The Judge adds, wearily it seems, as he expresses annoyance at having to say this again, that there are times when a disclaimer can absolve a person of liability. But, such circumstances are not present here – not even close.


Eight pages into his decision, the Judge addresses sanctionable conduct. The Judge says he has addressed Defendant’s arguments regarding a Motion to Dismiss and James’ request for a preliminary injunction twice already [emphasis the court’s]. Both times, the matter was appealed and the Defendants lost both times. Yet, says the Judge, they are bringing up the same arguments a third time.

At this point, every trial lawyer in America is cringing. These mistakes, if they are mistakes, now lay in the first year lawyer zone. Only a first year lawyer would commit such errors that are sure to antagonize every judge.

The Judge mentions his inherent authority to sanction frivolous claims and defenses. He adds that he has already described these arguments as “borderline frivolous” upon the first time they were pressed.

At this point, we have to wonder if the lawyers are deliberately trying to antagonize the Judge. As the Judge mentions, their conduct in reiterating these arguments yet again is “egregious.”

The Judge sanctioned each of Trump’s attorneys $7,500 each. The Judge points out their many “fantasies:” restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; regulated rent has the same value as unregulated rent; the Attorney General does not have capacity to file suits; etc. The Judge describes these as “bogus” arguments. Even in New York, it is rare for a Judge to criticize the lack of skill among the lawyers so directly. This Judge is extremely annoyed. In Judge-speak, he is spitting nails.

The Judge noted that Donald Trump has been sanctioned in other lawsuits. Judge Engoron notes rightly that it matters not whether the silly arguments were made at the request of Trump himself or if the lawyers made these weak arguments on their own. Every lawyer has a duty to withdraw baseless claims or defenses, says the Judge. I would also add that every lawyer has a duty to not discredit himself in the eyes of the Judge, simply because the client has unrealistic expectations. As one Law Professor told us 40 years ago, if your client screws things up, at least save yourself, so you can at least retain your own credibility. Trump’s lawyers willingly sacrificed their credibility.

Repetitive weak arguments simply doom whatever valid claims a lawyer might have. My guess is those lawyers knew better. They had to. Yet, they went ahead. See the decision in New York v Trump, Et Al here.

In yet another marathon hearing in the New York AG civil lawsuit, Judge Engoron gave Donald Trump a second chance to file an Answer that reflects reality. I talked about his Answer here in which he contradicted previous testimony in other lawsuits.

The judge denied the New York Attorney General’s request for sanctions and ordered Donald Trump to submit a new Answer to the lawsuit. See Daily Beast report here. Mr. Trump can re-do his Answer. But, in any lawsuit, lies do not just go away. I expect the original Answer and statement provided by Mr. Trump – 300 pages long – with many half-truths and lies will re-appear during the course of litigation.

One thing you do not do in court is lie to the judge. Telling a fib in a deposition is tantamount to lying to the Judge. Swearing to a falsehood in a statement is a lie in any court. Any party litigant must write this rule on his/her forehead: do not lie in any court aper or proceeding. Yet, it appears Mr. Trump has done exactly that.

In a civil lawsuit filed by the New York state Attorney General, Mr. Trump said under oath that he was not President of Trump Organization during his four years as President of the United States. Yet, in a separate, recent lawsuit filed by protesters who claimed Trump’s security guards assaulted them, Trump said he was an inactive president of Trump Organization and now he is active again.

Never was President of Trump Organization

But, in an Answer filed in the New York AG lawsuit, Trump said the opposite, that he denied the allegation that he was ever the inactive president of Trump Organization. Indeed, in that Answer, Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba claimed there was no such entity as Trump Organization. Which makes no sense. Donald Trump verified his statement, meaning he signed under oath before a Notary that it was true and correct. Yet, just last November, Ms. Habba announced herself to the same New York Court as a representative of Trump Organization and Donald Trump.

The New York AG, Letitia James, has filed a motion seeking sanctions for these incredibly inconsistent representations. The judge, Arthur Engoron, has already threatened to sanction the entire Trump family in that same lawsuit. And, just last week, Ms. Habba was sanctioned along with Mr. Trump by a Florida Federal judge.

It is Litigation 101 that you never lie in court or in writing. Do not lie, at all. But, if you do, do not do it in writing or in a deposition. Mr. Trump has clearly disregarded the advice of his lawyers, once again. See Daily Beast report here for more information.

There is a reason why persons do not routinely – or ever – file weak lawsuits. First, a reputation for weak lawsuits will follow you from court to court. Second, the judge will get annoyed and sanction you. Judge Middlebrooks of the Southern District of Florida has done all the above. Former Pres. Trump filed the weakest of some dozen frivolous lawsuits in 2021 against his political rivals. The defendants in that suit included everyone from Hillary Clinton to dozens of FBI and Justice Department officials. The lawsuit addressed a hodgepodge of political actions and decision by DOJ officials over the prior several years.

Judge Middlebrooks sanctioned Donald Trump, his lawyer, Alina Habba and her law firm $937,989. The court found the lawsuit was filed for political purposes and it served no apparent legal purpose. Said the court:

“This case should never have been brought. Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.”

That is as complete a rebuke as a judge can issue. The Judge found the lawsuit deficient in some very fundamental respects:

  • That the statute of limitations should be tolled because Trump was busy as president. The former president, said the Judge, still found time for many other personal lawsuits.
  • The defendants were liable for malicious prosecution, even though there never was any actual prosecution.
  • There was personal jurisdiction in Florida over defendants who resided elsewhere, because the defendants knew Florida is a very important state. (For pete’s sake, this claim exceeds any prior definition of silly).
  • The defendants were liable under a trade secrets claim, even though there were no actual trade secrets.
  • The defendants were liable for obstruction of justice, even though there was no actual official proceeding to be obstructed.

These are ludicrous legal claims. The lawyer absolutely knew they were silly when she filed this ridiculous lawsuit. Any judge would find the suit offensive, because most judges are already overwhelmed with a glut of criminal and civil lawsuits in Federal courts.

Categorically Absurd

The Judge mentioned that Habba and Trump repeatedly mis-characterized the Mueller investigation report. He described as “categorically absurd” the claim that Hillary Clinton and James Comey conspired to seek an investigation into Trump

The Court noted that this lawsuit represented a playbook often used by Trump in which he files a lawsuit with boasting, political rhetoric carried over from his political rallies, personal attacks on political opponents and media, and disregard for legal principles. See ABA Bar Journal for more information here.