Manhattan judge rules Donald Trump's effort to delay fraud trial is 'without merit'

Former President Donald Trump is seen leaving Trump Tower on April 13 in New York City, where he was scheduled to sit for a deposition as part of New York Attorney General Letitia James' $250 million civil fraud lawsuit against him. File Photo by John Nacion/UPI

Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A Manhattan judge on Wednesday thwarted an effort by former President Donald Trump to delay his civil trial on business fraud accusations.

"Decline to sign," New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron handwrote on the document, obtained by UPI. "Defendant's arguments are completely without merit."

Trump's legal team had requested that Engoron stay the trial, scheduled to begin Oct. 2, until after a hearing could be held on competing motions for summary judgment. Engoron has kept to the date of the trial, set last year.

The civil trial will be the first for Trump since he left the White House in 2021 and comes ahead of a slew of criminal trials the former president faces related to efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and the improper handling of classified documents.

The New York civil trial stems from a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James last year. James had filed the suit against Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization, alleging an illegal scheme that amassed $250 million by fraudulently overvaluing assets.

James seeks to recover $250 million she said was received through deceptive practices and aims to bar Trump and his children Eric, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., from serving as officers or directors in any New York company.

Earlier this week, James asked Engoron to sanction Trump and his co-defendants $10,000 each for trying to delay the trial by repeatedly putting forward failed legal arguments. Trump has since demanded that James withdraw her motion for sanctions.

"The people will not accede to defendant's 'demand' that they withdraw their motion for sanctions," special counsel Andrew Amer said in a letter to the court Wednesday, obtained by UPI.

Amer noted that the court had warned Trump for the second time against using "borderline frivolous" legal arguments and that the request to withdraw the motion for sanctions was in and of itself "frivolous and sanctionable."