VOX CLAMANTIS: Engoron's decision was medieval persecution, not justice

Arthur Engoron is a Denier.

Comrade People’s Judge Arthur Engoron (the name suggests he escaped from the pages of a Kurt Vonnegut novel – it does rhyme with Harrison Bergeron. Etymologists have not yet ruled out if it is a corrupt derivation of the elision of “ignorant moron.”) has denied the Constitution. More specifically, he has denied the purpose and aims of law, of the common law system in the Anglo-American tradition of jurisprudence, and he has denied many of the individual constitutional rights guaranteed to Donald Trump and his businesses and family members.

How do we know all this? By reading his (92 page!) opinion and order entered in the New York State Supreme Court this past Friday, February 16, 2024. I read it, so you don’t have to. And if you take away nothing else from this or any other view of the opinion, be sure of this: Donald Trump and his family committed no crime.

There was no crime, absolutely and certainly, most tellingly because we see and know that this case was brought as a civil complaint. It is NOT a criminal case. This is no small detail, given that we all know that if they could have made a true criminal prosecution – they would have; the desire to undo this former President is just so obsessively intense with these miscreant “public servants.”

What then does a civil complaint of any kind (they are usually contract or tort suits) entail? Well, almost always it requires that somebody claim and show they have been harmed. And no true plaintiff is present in this case, as there is no one who claims they lent money to the Trump Organization and were not repaid, or that Trump was bound by contractual promise to do something which he did not. Everyone entered into business lending agreements, everyone got their money, lent at first and repaid with interest at the end. Where is the harm? Or as the classical law saying goes, all the way back to ancient Roman jurisprudence: Damnum non fit inuria. There is no fault where there has been no injury.

It seems like common sense, and in legal terms it is so basic that it is a longstanding tenet of fair practice and procedure – just like the principle that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. [Though remember, we are talking about civil cases here, and there is no guilt or criminal stigma involved.]  It is in fact firmly ensconced in our Constitution and law as the principle of Due Process of Law.

Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron is a New York state court judge. He presumably knows and should follow the state Constitution of New York, which compels its own mandate of Due Process of Law. One New York law treatise calls due process “the principal constitutional restraint on potential excesses of state judicial power.” We see exactly why in this case.

The federal Constitution also applies to the New York State courts, under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution: No State may deprive any person of life, liberty or property without Due Process of Law. The Fourteenth Amendment also incorporates the provision of the Fifth Amendment, that no government may take private property for public use without just compensation. And every United States person including Donald Trump is entitled through the Fourteenth Amendment to the full Privileges and Immunities of a citizen of the United States. And Article I, section 10 of the original text of the Constitution further commands that no State shall pass any Bill of Attainder or ex post facto law.

But none of that matters to Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron. This commissar has taken it upon himself to subjectively condemn Trump for the non-crime of a non-injury to … the State? Because no private party, no bank or lender or insurance company, saw any loss or harm, there is no true plaintiff in this case. Instead, the Attorney General (or should we say the People’s High Procurator) Letitia James initiated this persecution, in fulfillment of her election campaign promises. New York law, as Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron began in his opinion, empowers an Attorney General to bring this kind of enforcement action, absent any specified complainant or victim, in an injunction suit with ability to obtain restitution and damages from someone alleged to have committed repeated business fraud. Tellingly the law is part of the Executive Law of New York State – an enhancement of executive prerogative of the government to act of its own will without regard to law or the individual.

Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron considered the law amply justified because “In mid-twentieth century New York, to judge by contemporary press reports and judicial opinions, fraudsters were having a field day.” Well Okay, then. By this law, Comrade Procurator James launched the investigation into all of the Trump Organization’s business dealings, looking for anything to make Lavrenti Beria proud.   

In September 2023, Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron entered Summary Judgment that Trump was liable on the first count of false statements in business records, precisely because the requirement of damages to another party is, in Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron’s august opinion, NOT a necessary element of the NY Executive Law offense. Next came witnesses on both sides, “summarized” in 70 pages. If a witness contravened the State, Comrade People’s Judge Engoron found their “credibility was compromised” or the testimony “did not conform to” a State witness’s account of events.

Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron decreed the law as to Trump. The burden of proof was the lowest standard, a mere preponderance of the evidence -- 50% plus anything. Engoron denied a higher “clear and convincing” standard should apply, because that standard applies only when a case “involves the denial of, addresses, or adjudicates fundamental personal or liberty rights.” Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron cannot understand constitutional rights as anything other than an abortion.

Engoron found no need to show reliance on the purportedly false statements of financial conditions; the Peoples Judge just knew in his heart, that Trump and his companies had bad intent. Along with reliance, Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron denied any issue of materiality, because it “has been one of the great red herrings of this case all along.” Channeling Justice Potter Stewart, Engoron “knew [fraud] when he saw it,” and the “frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience.” Good to know. Comrade Peoples Judge could arbitrarily decree, “any number that is at least 10% off [from whatever Engoron thinks is correct] could be deemed ‘material,’ and any number that is at least 50% off would likely be deemed material.” Comrade Engoron should go into retail sales with a genius like that for at least 50% off. Maybe he could become as rich as Donald Trump.

The remaining causes of action are all conspiracy. “Conspiracy” is a criminal concept, and this is a civil case. Conspiracy requires an agreement and intent to break the law, coupled with at least one “overt act” to further the common aim or goal. This should not be necessary for Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron. But a conspiracy “so immense” condemns all the corporate legal entities of the Trump businesses. That’s Where the Money Is.

And finally we see the true motives of this show trial. For Comrade Peoples Judge Engoron the worst Trump wrongdoing is “complete lack of contrition and remorse … defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways.”

“Repent!” cried both Savonarola and Torquemada, yet the innocent persist in appearing totally uncontrite and resistant to the zealots who prejudge and pursue them. It kinda bugs them, I think, not receiving their victims’ adulation and respect.

The Executive Law permits Comrade Peoples Judge to award restitution, hundreds of millions of dollars. But with no damage or loss, who gets that money? The State, of course, salivating with glee.

In Medieval times, the monarch had a subject of his envy imprisoned, tried, and disgorged of his wealth. Heirs lost too; this was Corruption of Blood.  Parliament could pass a bill addressing one specific individual, the Bill of Attainder, to seize the assets for their benefit. King Philip of France had the Knights Templar tortured in all manner of ways, expropriating their wealth to escape his large debts. Except for the Barons who forced King John to sign Magna Carta at Runnymede, this has always been the fate of the well to do under the absolute ruler. After Engoron’s opinion. NY Governess Kathy Hochul answered a public questioner who wondered If they could do this to Trump, should other business owners be concerned? Hochul answered that this was a one-off situation for Trump, --- thereby admitting to a modern Bill of Attainder.

Welcome to the new age of Neo-Feudalism.

Vox Clamantis is the gender-neutral pen name of a dissident lawyer who has decades of practice experience in BigLaw, medium, small and solo firms, as well as government prosecution of felony crimes. Vox Clamantis writes more on Substack at voxclamantis1789.substack.com

Image: Title: engoran


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