Who Is Juan Merchan, the Latino Judge Overseeing Donald Trump’s Criminal Case?
The presiding judge in Donald Trump‘s criminal trial is none other than veteran Latino judge Juan Merchan. The judge previously sentenced one of Trump’s former executives, Allen Weisselberg, in a tax fraud case involving the Trump Organization. Merchan is also overseeing the criminal fraud case of another Trump advisor, Steve Bannon.
However, he’ll now be overseeing a case involving Trump himself. Trump is the first former president in American history to face charges in criminal court. Although Trump continues to characterize the charges as part of a “witch hunt,” Weisselberg’s own attorney described Merchan as “well-prepared, accessible, and… a man of his word.”
Who is Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing Donald Trump’s criminal case?
Born in Colombia, Merchan came to the United States at six years old, where he lived in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York. Merchan then obtained a law degree from Hofstra University in 1994. He then became a judge in 2006 before joining New York County’s Criminal Supreme Court in 2009.
His colleagues describe him as a man of integrity and fairness, even if he isn’t afraid to keep his court in order. His no-nonsense approach is the antithesis of Trump’s, which relies heavily on media attention, scandal, and hyperbole.
On his own platform, Truth Social, Trump wrote, “The Judge ‘assigned’ to my Witch Hunt Case, a ‘Case’ that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME.” Trump also said Merchan treated Weisselberg unfairly and said he pursued the Trump Organization “viciously.”
According to the Manhattan DA’s former chief assistant district attorney, Karen Friedman Agnifilo, “He doesn’t let a media circus or any other kind of circus happen.” Referencing Trump’s penchant for stirring up drama and outrage, “I don’t think Donald Trump attacking him and threatening him is going to bode very well for him in the courtroom.”
However, Agnifilo also said Merchan is “not vindictive” and will “not hold it against” the former president. Her claim echoes that of Weisselberg’s attorney, Nicholas Gravante. Merchan promised Weisselberg a five-month sentence and stuck to his word, even when he felt compelled to sentence him to more time behind bars.
Merchan is no stranger to high-profile cases
Trump is not the only front-page case of Merchan’s career. In addition to presiding over Weisselberg and Bannon’s cases, he also oversaw the infamous “soccer mom madam” trial. In that case, he sentenced a mother named Anna Gristina on a $2 million bond after she was charged with operating an expensive escort service for the rich.
Additionally, Merchan is one of the people behind the Manhattan Mental Health Court. He regularly presides over that court’s cases and often gives offenders struggling with mental health a chance at redemption.
However, an attorney name Earl Ward, chair of a nonprofit organization called The Bronx Defenders, tells a different story. Ward conceded that Merchan is fair in his rulings. But, “if it’s a close call, his reputation is that he lands on the prosecution’s side.”
Conservatives are up in arms about this development
On social media, conservatives are not afraid to share their opinion on Merchan’s involvement. Many are characterizing the judge as a longtime Democrat who openly criticizes Trump. Some are even questioning his status as a legal American citizen.
The backlash is only growing as rumors of a gag order against Trump continue to circulate.
Many Trump supporters are also taking Merchan’s involvement as a personal attack.
As we mentioned before, some are stooping to the level of questioning his citizenship.
Others are just being plain nasty.
However, Merchan’s supporters maintain he will oversee a case that is fair and honest to all involved.
But that isn’t stopping some people from being a bit petty about it, either.