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In Trump, System Meets a Challenge Unlike Any Other

As former President Donald Trump prepares to go on trial next week in the first of his criminal prosecutions to reach that stage, Trump's complaints about two-tiered justice and his supporters' claims that he has been singled out for persecution are contradicted by a host of examples of how he enjoys favorable treatment no other defendant could expect, Politico Magazine reports. An analysis by Politico legal editor James Romoser details how, despite denigrating prosecutors, lying about his cases and vilifying judges and their families, Trump has avoided serious penalties. “I can’t imagine any other defendant posting on social media about a judge’s family and not being very quickly incarcerated,” said Russell Gold, a law professor at the University of Alabama.

Some judges in Trump’s cases may have afforded him unique leeway in hopes of avoiding any appearance that they are meddling in the 2024 campaign. But, writes Romoser, Trump has enjoyed several advantages throughout his court appearances that are signs of preferential treatment. At his first arraignment for covering up his sex scandal with porn star Stormy Daniels, no one handcuffed him or took his mug shot, processes other defendants have to go through. He was also not detained in a holding cell, but was whisked through the courthouse and then released. Trump was then indicted in three more cases, whose arraignments followed the same choreography (although Georgia authorities did take his mugshot). Additionally, in all four of his criminal cases, Trump was allowed to remain free from jail with minimal conditions, one being to refrain from threatening or harassing witnesses or jurors. Yet Trump has repeatedly hurled "menacing language" that would have constituted crossing the line for any other defendant. This solicitude for Trump goes up to the Supreme Court, where it stalled Trump’s federal election subversion trial for at least several months. "These special concerns point to a deeper reality that has pervaded Trump’s yearlong odyssey through the criminal justice apparatus: The system was never designed to handle a defendant who is a former, and perhaps, future president," Romoser writes. "And when confronted with such a defendant, the system was sure to bend."


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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