New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan on Wednesday denied Donald Trump’s request to delay his hush-money criminal trial until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the former president’s claim of presidential immunity in his federal case.

In his order, Merchan characterized Trump’s request as “untimely,” writing that defense lawyers had several opportunities to ask for a delay prior to making their request on March 7. The former president’s team had asked the judge to adjourn the hush-money trial, which is scheduled for April 15, until the high court rules on Trump’s push for presidential immunity to protect himself from charges in his federal election interference case.

Merchan wrote that the attorneys’ “excuses” for the timing of their request were “inadequate and not convincing.” He also cited New York state law regarding pre-trial motions, which states that all requests “shall be served or filed within forty-five days after arraignment and before commencement of trial.”

Former President Donald Trump is pictured in New York City’s Manhattan Criminal Court on March 25. New York State Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan has denied Trump’s request to delay his hush-money criminal case.

MARY ALTAFFER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Context

Merchan is presiding over the first of Trump’s criminal cases to head to trial, as the former president faces 34 counts of falsifying business records, accused of attempting to conceal hush-money payments made to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The former president has sought to delay his long list of legal challenges from heading to court until after the November presidential election, as Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee. He has also sought to use claims of presidential immunity in his federal classified documents case and the election interference case in Georgia, although judges in both criminal cases have yet to weigh in on his efforts.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on Trump’s bid for immunity in his federal election subversion case next week. A ruling could take until June.

What We Know

Merchan’s six-page order on Wednesday focused on the timing of Trump’s request to delay his hush-money case, and said that the defense team failed “to explain why [Trump] waited long past the statutory period allotted” by state law to file his motion.

“The Court finds that Defendant had myriad opportunities to raise the claim of presidential immunity well before March 7, 2024,” Merchan wrote in his conclusion.

“Defendant could have done so in his omnibus motions on September 29, 2023, which were filed a mere six days before he briefed the same issue in his Federal Insurrection Matter and several months after he brought his motion for removal to federal court on May 4, 2023.”

Merchan also declined to consider whether the doctrine of presidential immunity would prevent certain evidence from being introduced in court.

Views

Trump has criticized Merchan on several occasions publicly, calling him a “Trump-hating judge” and requesting that the judge recuse himself from the case in light of Merchan’s daughter being employed by a Democratic political consulting firm.

The former president also posted several attacks against Merchan’s daughter, Loren, whom Trump accuses of standing to benefit financially from the outcome of the hush-money case. The attacks led to Merchan expanding a gag order placed on Trump last week to protect family members of the court from the former president’s commentary.

“Judge Merchan’s unconstitutional Gag Order prevents President Trump—the leading candidate for President of the United States—from engaging in core political speech, which is entitled to the highest level of protection under the First Amendment,” Steven Cheung, Trump communications director, on Monday said in a statement after Merchan expanded the gag order.

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s campaign via email for comment on Wednesday.

What’s Next?

Jury selection for the hush-money case is scheduled to begin April 15, and legal experts anticipate that the trial could be over within a few weeks. The case is the first of Trump’s four criminal indictments heading to trial while he campaigns for reelection in November.

Update 04/03/24, 6:22 p.m. ET: This article has been updated with additional information and background.