A New York appeals court on Thursday temporarily blocked a gag order in former President Donald Trump‘s civil fraud trial that barred him from complaining about the judge’s law clerk.
The Appellate Division judge ordered the stay after Trump’s attorneys appealed the gag order that Judge Arthur Engoron had put in place as being “unconstitutional.”
The pause will remain in place until at least Nov. 27, when a full panel of appeals court judges will consider the matter.
Engoron imposed the gag order last month, on the second day of the $250 million New York civil fraud trial, after Trump posted a picture of the clerk and disparaged her on his social media platform Truth Social.
“Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate and I won’t tolerate it,” Engoron said after finding out about the social media post and critical comments Trump had made about the clerk to reporters covering the trial in Manhattan.
The judge has fined Trump twice for a total of $15,000 after finding he violated last month’s order.
The judge expanded the order to include Trump’s attorneys last week, following their repeated complaints about what they described as the clerk’s “inappropriate behavior,” which they said included making comments and passing notes to the judge and rolling her eyes during witness testimony.
Engoron said at the time that he has every right to get advice from his clerk and that Trump’s lawyers were “falsely accusing her of bias against them and of improperly influencing the ongoing bench trial,” while ordering them not to refer to his staff. He said in a written ruling that his chambers had been “inundated” with threats since the trial began on Oct. 2.
In their appeal, Trump’s lawyers argued that the gag orders were “not narrowly tailored.”
“The mere potential that speech may anger or provoke others likewise does not entitle Justice Engoron to suspend wholesale the rights afforded litigants by the First Amendment and the New York Constitution,” Trump attorneys wrote. “The First Amendment does not permit Justice Engoron to restrict speech based on the audience’s anticipated unruly reaction.”