SAN DIEGO (CN) — Donald Trump's attorneys filed a slew of documents Thursday seeking to block statements made by and about the Republican presidential nominee during the election season —including sexual assault allegations against him — from coming up during the first Trump University trial next month.
The election has been the biggest sticking point for Trump as the lawsuit Low v. Trump University moves toward a Nov. 28 trial in San Diego's federal court. Trump has argued in filings and at multiple hearings over the past year the "unprecedented media coverage" he's received during the election season has put him — and the trial — under a magnifying glass.
That was his argument for keeping his videotaped deposition out of the hands of the media — which U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel has agreed to do. But will Curiel approve all of Trump's motions to exclude election fodder in the trial next month?
Trump is being sued by students of his shuttered real estate school who claim he defrauded them with a "get rich quick" scheme to cash in on the foreclosure crisis. Some students paid upwards of $35,000 for advice they claim was little more than an infomercial.
Trump's attorney Daniel Petrocelli said the trial, unlike the presidential election Nov. 8, must be decided based on facts and not what the media has reported about Trump's personal life.
"Before trial begins in this case, prospective members of the jury will have the opportunity to cast their vote for President," Petrocelli wrote. "It is in the ballot box where they are free to judge Mr. Trump based on all this and more. But it is in the jury box where they must judge him and this case only on evidence and argument relevant to the issues at hand. Plaintiffs have no right to cross those lines in an attempt to inflame and prejudice the jury, and it is the court's duty to protect the integrity of the judicial process and defendant's right to a fair trial. That can only happen if extraneous, irrelevant and prejudicial matters are excluded from the courtroom."
Petrocelli moved to exclude evidence or argument that has "nothing to do with the trial" but everything to do with the election including: campaign speeches; statements at political rallies, including statements about this case; statements at debates; statements about individuals or entities unrelated to this litigation; campaign advertisements; Tweets; statements by campaign surrogates; audio and video recordings made or publicized during the campaign; Tax issues; comments about this case or the court; Donald J. Trump Foundation or other businesses owned or managed by Trump not part of this litigation, including Trump Organization; personal conduct accusations; other politicians, state attorneys general or public servants; beauty pageants, casinos and corporate bankruptcies; and other litigation.
The presidential candidate also wants evidence about Trump University students' purported financial conditions excluded, as well as evidence from another Trump University lawsuit filed by the New York State Attorney General's Office and a Better Business Bureau complaint related to Trump University, among other requests.
Trump's attorney says allowing matters publicized during the presidential campaign to be brought up during the trial "carries an immediate and irreparable danger of extreme and irremediable prejudice to defendants."
Petorcelli says Trump's public comments cannot be used during the Low trial as "character evidence," or other wrongs or acts used to "prove a person's character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character."
He added, "The court must exercise extreme vigilance to prevent the passions and prejudices from a partisan political process from impairing the integrity of the trial."
Sonny Low and the other plaintiffs also filed requests to exclude evidence during the trial, including evidence related to Trump University's purported approval rating and student evaluations. The students are also asking Curiel to allow live trial testimony via video transmission from another location in lieu of appearing in person during the trial.
A hearing on the motions in limine to exclude evidence from being used during the Low trial is scheduled for Nov. 10.
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