SAN DIEGO (CN) – Former Trump University students did not mince words in an opposition filed Monday regarding President-elect Donald Trump’s request to delay trial of the class action against his former real estate school, calling the request a “slippery slope” and arguing his election win does not change the legal standard for moving the case forward.
Citing the need to prepare for becoming president, Donald Trump filed a formal request with a federal judge Saturday that asks to delay the first Trump University trial.
“This is an unprecedented circumstance,” Trump’s lead attorney Daniel Petrocelli wrote in an ex parte application for a continuance.
Trump is the first person ever elected U.S. president while facing class action lawsuits accusing him of fraud.
In their 12-page response filed Monday, Sonny Low and the other plaintiffs scoffed at Trump’s insistence the trial be delayed until after his Jan. 20 inauguration. The plaintiffs said Trump should not require an additional opportunity to record his testimony since he already did so on two separate occasions, totaling more than 10 hours of videotaped sworn testimony that can be used during the trial.
“The legal standard for moving a trial date is the same for defendant Trump, candidate Trump and President-elect Trump: he must establish good cause. Because President-elect Trump has failed to suggest, let alone establish, a single admissible fact that he will be unable to present at the currently scheduled trial, he has failed to establish good cause for delay,” the class said.
They also pointed out since Trump already acknowledged he could testify before his inauguration, that means he is available to testify at the Nov. 28 trial.
“Conceding that he can afford to set aside a day in January 2017 to testify in this case is the same as conceding that he can set aside a day in early December to do so. Since Trump has complete control over when he makes what decisions, he can simply shift his schedule one day, testify, and then pick up with the transition process right where he left off,” the plaintiffs say.
Trump could either testify live or submit his prior deposition video to be used during the trial, Low and the others said. But the president-elect’s “modest” request to delay the trial until “who knows” follows multiple attempts this year by Trump and his legal team to throw the trial off course, the plaintiffs claim. Many of the plaintiffs – including Low – are senior citizens, a fact U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has pointed out several times in emphasizing the need to resolve the case as soon as possible.
“This trial, like so many Trump University student-victims’ credit card bills, is past due,” the plaintiffs say.
In a 5-page response filed just hours later on Monday afternoon, Petrocelli said Trump does need to be deposed again because his original deposition consisted only of cross-examination by the plaintiffs’ attorneys and no questions by his own legal team.
Petrocelli first gave notice to Curiel at a Thursday hearing that the president-elect would ask for a trial delay.
At the hearing, Petrocelli told Curiel that his client was not requesting an indefinite delay of the trial, but said a trial date in February or March 2017 would allow the president-elect to prepare for his inauguration on Jan. 20.
The written request did not indicate if Trump would in fact seek a spring 2017 trial, or one at a later date during his presidency.
Curiel months ago set the trial to begin after the election and before inauguration, to accommodate a potential President-elect Trump.
Low et al. sued Trump in 2010 on behalf of thousands of former Trump University students who paid $35,000 or more to learn real estate secrets from instructors purportedly handpicked by Trump. Trump turned out to have little involvement in the school, which his attorneys said relied on “sales puffery,” common in advertising, to capitalize on Trump’s name.