In December, in a deposition regarding one of the class-action lawsuits being brought against Trump University, Donald Trump said, “I’m dying to go to court on this case.” On Friday, however, his lawyers argued that by requesting a summer trial the plaintiffs were trying to undermine his presidential campaign.
“I so look forward to having this case go to court. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time,” Trump said in the December 10 deposition, taken at Trump Tower in New York City. “Let’s just go to court and get this case—I’m dying to go to court on this case.”
But in a filing submitted on Friday afternoon, Trump’s lawyers wrote that the plaintiffs’ request for a trial date in June or August constitutes “a transparent attempt to prejudice defendants’ ability to defend this case at trial while Mr. Trump is running for President.” The Republican National Convention is in July.
“Defendants have a constitutional right to a jury trial for certain claims and have demanded a jury. Until now, plaintiffs have also demanded a jury trial,” they wrote. “Plaintiffs’ proposal also would require the Court to conduct a trial at a time when this case has become a politicized national story and while Mr. Trump is running for President.”
At a status conference in December, in California, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Jason Forge, acknowledged the difficulty the fact that Trump is running for president presents. “We’ve all seen high-profile cases, but nothing like this,” Forge told the judge. “Whether that impacts our ability to pick a fair jury, it would be foolish for me to say it wouldn’t. I mean, of course it would. Whether it makes it impossible, I just don’t know.”
“I know we have one fair and unbiased fact-finder here,” he said, referring, presumably, to Curiel, “who would be unaffected by the publicity.” (Trump has disputed whether Curiel is, in fact, fair and unbiased.)
The day before, lawyers for the plaintiffs had requested that Judge Gonzalo Curiel set a trial date at the next status conference. “Time is of the essence in getting this case to trial,” they wrote in a filing submitted on Thursday. The class-action lawsuit includes a number of individuals who are elderly, who, according to court documents, “need resolution before it is too late.”
“The fate of their claims should not depend on the political process or the level of publicity this case garners, which is out of their control,” their lawyers wrote.
Meanwhile, Trump may be called as a witness in another potential trial relating to Trump University, in New York, where Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is pursuing a $40 million fraud case against the Republican frontrunner. The attorney general has asked the judge in that case to rule on the case without a trial—a hearing is scheduled for April 26. If the judge rejects Schneiderman’s request, the case will likely move to a bench trial, which recent court filings indicate the AG wants to happen as quickly as possible.