The judicial system in New York, particularly the office of Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the high-profile civil fraud trial involving former President Donald Trump, has become the focal point of intense scrutiny and alarming hostility.
The surge of death threats and antisemitic abuse directed at Judge Engoron and his clerk, Allison Greenfield, underscores the volatile atmosphere surrounding this case.
Judge and clerk receive barrage of messages via phone and social media
Judge Engoron and Ms. Greenfield have reportedly received an overwhelming number of threatening and harassing messages through both telephone and social media platforms. This situation has raised alarm bells about the security measures in place for court officials, particularly in politically charged cases.
In a recent campaign event in Houston, Texas, Trump continued his public engagements amid this controversy. However, the backlash against the judge and his clerk has brought into sharp focus the impact of political discourse on the safety of individuals associated with legal proceedings against prominent figures.
Attorneys raise flags over ‘serious and credible’ threats
Attorneys representing the New York state court system have argued forcefully for gag orders against Trump. Their rationale stems from what they describe as “serious and credible” threats against Engoron and Greenfield.
This legal move points to a growing concern over the potential for inflammatory rhetoric to spill over into real-world violence.
The situation took a darker turn with the disclosure of transcribed voicemail messages in court filings. These messages, characterized by racist, sexist, and violent content, include explicit death threats.
Threatening messages left for judge’s office
One message stated chillingly, “I mean, honestly, you should be assassinated. You should be killed”.
Another message echoed this hostility, saying, “Resign now, you dirty, treasonous piece of trash snake. We are going to get you and anyone of you dirty, backstabbing, lying, cheating American. You are nothing but a bunch of communists. We are coming to remove you permanently.”
These messages reflect a disturbing trend where judicial officers are subjected to severe personal attacks that go far beyond legal critique.
Connection between Greenfield and Schumber?
The situation was further exacerbated when Trump posted an image of Greenfield on his social network, insinuating a personal connection between her and Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate majority leader.
This action prompted Judge Engoron to issue a limited gag order aimed at preventing further comments on court staff by Trump.
The balance between free speech and protecting people
However, a recent development saw a New York appeals court judge temporarily halting this gag order. This pause allows Trump to continue commenting on court staff while the appeal process is underway, raising questions about the balance between free speech and the protection of individuals involved in the judicial process.
The personal impact on Greenfield has been significant. Charles Hollon, a court safety official, reported that Greenfield’s personal contact details have been compromised, leading to a relentless barrage of calls and messages.
Ms. Greenfield receives 20-30 calls daily to her personal cellphone
Hollon revealed that “Ms. Greenfield has been receiving approximately 20-30 calls per day to her personal cell phone and approximately 30-50 messages per day online.” He further noted that since the temporary lifting of the gag order, about half of these messages have been antisemitic in nature.
At the heart of this legal saga is the fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James against the Trump Organization.
The case accuses the organization of inflating the value of its properties to secure favorable loans. Judge Engoron’s pre-trial summary judgment found Trump guilty of fraud and revoked his New York business licenses, a significant blow to Trump’s business operations in the state.
As this is a bench trial without a jury, Engoron is the sole judge presiding over the case.
Trump’s legal team maintains his innocence
Trump’s legal team, maintaining his innocence and alleging corruption, has appealed the judgment. As the legal battle unfolds, the threats and abuse directed at those involved in the trial underscore the increasingly hostile climate surrounding politically sensitive cases.
This situation not only poses a threat to the individuals involved but also raises broader questions about the integrity and independence of the judicial process in the face of intense political pressure and public scrutiny.