SAN DIEGO (CN) — Former Trump University students chastised Donald Trump and his attorney Wednesday, saying Trump “can’t be trusted” to proceed and the “convenience” of one attorney should not postpone the 6 ½-year-old case from having its day in court.
On Monday, Daniel Petrocelli — Trump’s fourth attorney in the Low v. Trump University case — asked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel to move the Nov. 28 trial date to either Dec. 12 or Jan. 2, 2017. Petrocelli cited a conflicting trial in another California court just days before the first Trump University trial is set to begin.
Lead plaintiff Sonny Low and other former Trump University students sued Trump in 2010 on claims that they were duped into paying upwards of $35,000 to learn insider real estate secrets from instructors “handpicked” by Trump himself. They are represented by attorney Jason Forge.
On Wednesday, the plaintiffs called Petrocelli’s request “untimely and unjustified,” noting the lawyer’s conflicting trial date in Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio was set nine months ago and the trial date for the Low case was set four months ago. Petrocelli never brought up the scheduling conflict until a court hearing held late last month.
The class wants Curiel to deny Trump’s delay request and move up the jury selection proceedings.
At a scheduling hearing this past May, Low and the other plaintiff’s requested a summer trial date — which Trump vehemently opposed. Petrocelli suggested a post-inauguration trial date of for February 2017 which Curiel denied, saying the trial needed to be held between election and Inauguration Day, should Trump be elected president.
Petrocelli works for O’Melveny & Meyers out of Los Angeles. The law firm — which employs about 700 lawyers — became the fourth to represent Trump in the older of two class actions against his now-defunct Trump University being litigated in San Diego.
Low and the others pointed out that from last November — when Petrocelli was retained by Trump — and the present, Curiel has accommodated multiple requests by Trump to move potential trial dates around his campaign schedule. They also say Petrocelli had at least four opportunities between January and August to inform Curiel of the conflict.
Pushing the trial date back could “risk an indefinite delay and guarantee significant personal and professional hardship for everyone who took Trump at his word,” Low and the others claim.
Offering a potential explanation on why Petrocelli never mentioned the scheduling conflict, Low and the others say he was simply following Trump’s marching orders to avoid a pre-election trial at all costs.
“Defense counsel was following orders to avoid at all costs a pre-election trial, and he realized that raising a potential conflict with the November 28 trial date would have likely led the court to give stronger consideration to its originally planned August trial (as plaintiffs were still urging), or perhaps September or October,” the class says.
Despite knowing about the conflict, Trump’s attorneys repeatedly relied on the “proximate” November trial date when arguing against making videotapes of his deposition publicly available. This points to his attorneys’ radio silence as a “tactical decision” that “should not be rewarded by this court,” the plaintiffs claim.
But despite all the lambasting, the plaintiffs still brainstorm ways to ensure the Trump University trial can begin Nov. 28 — with Petrocelli at both of his engagements.
They urged Curiel to begin jury selection on Oct. 31 to provide a two-day “cushion” at the front-end of the Low trial and avoid the possibility of Petrocelli’s Sirius trial butting into their case.
Far from an olive branch, however, the class also questioned Petrocelli’s importance to Trump’s case.
“With all due respect to defense counsel, he was not Trump’s first, second, or third choice to represent him in this case, so it cannot be credibly asserted that he is somehow indispensable.”
Curiel has repeatedly said it is important to get the Low case — one of his oldest, if not the oldest, cases on his docket — to trial, especially since it includes financial elder abuse claims. Low and the others say that means “it’s only fair” for Trump and Petrocelli to bear the risk of any inconvenience.
But the class mostly fears another delay will mean that their case never gets its day in court. Since Trump has no political experience he will need extra time to get the hang of running the nation and may try to postpone the trial indefinitely if elected, they say.
“As the situation demonstrates, Trump cannot be trusted to refrain from making and breaking any promises to proceed to trial on any given date,” the plaintiffs say. “And the later the request, the more likely it is to be granted — if not by this court, then by a reviewing court. After all, Trump has no political experience, and if he is elected president, each day closer he gets to inauguration would only strengthen an argument that he needs to dedicate more time to figuring out how to run our country.”
The Low case is set to go to trial Nov. 28. A hearing on Trump’s delay request has not yet been set.
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