Trump seeks recusal of judge who fined him $464M in civil fraud trial

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(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump filed a motion Thursday to try to get the judge who oversaw his civil fraud trial in New York kicked off the case.

The motion alleges that Judge Arthur Engoron violated the rules governing how judges are supposed to behave.

Engoron in February ordered Trump to pay $464 million in disgorgement and pre-judgment interest after he found the former president and his adult sons liable for using “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” to inflate his net worth in order to get more favorable loan terms. Trump has denied all wrongdoing and has appealed the decision in the case.

Trump’s attorneys said in Thursday’s filing that the judge “may have engaged in actions fundamentally incompatible with the responsibilities attendant to donning the black robe and sitting in judgment.”

The defense alleged Engoron spoke to a New York real estate attorney about the substance of Trump’s case, in violation of New York’s Code of Judicial Conduct. The filing cited a conversation between Engoron and lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey, who alleged he spoke with Engoron three weeks before the judge issued his decision in the case.

“I saw him in the corner [at the courthouse] and I told my client, ‘I need to go.’ And I walked over and we started talking,” Bailey told NBC New York, which first reported the story. “I wanted him to know what I think and why … I really want him to get it right.”

Bailey could not immediately be reached for comment. Al Baker, the court’s spokesperson said, “We have no further comment on this matter.”

In a statement to ABC News, Bailey pushed back on the allegation that his discussion with Engoron about the case was inappropriate or merits the judge’s recusal.

According to Bailey, their discussion only concerned Engoron’s September 2023 summary judgment order in which the judge determined Trump committed fraud.

“I did not think that speaking to Judge Engoron about my own personal views of his already published decision was wrong in any way,” Bailey said.

Bailey said he was “devasted” and “hurt” that his remarks could impact Engoron.

According to a filing today, defense lawyers are preparing to subpoena Bailey for information related to his discussion with Engoron. He told ABC News that he has not yet spoken with defense attorneys about his communications with Engoron.

Trump’s defense argued in their filing Thursday that Engoron should either recuse himself from the case or allow a hearing on the allegations.

“In sum, this Court appears to have proceeded not only in contravention of controlling law and the Constitution, but perhaps also contrary to the governing standards of judicial conduct,” the filing said.

Trump is already appealing the outcome of the civil fraud case to an intermediate appellate court, with the appeal due to be filed next month. If the appeal fails, Engoron would oversee payment of the financial penalty. He also oversees the monitor he imposed on the Trump Organization to assure the integrity of the company’s financial statements, which the trial determined inflated Trump’s wealth by as much as $2 billion.

In a statement, defense attorney Alina Habba said the allegations demonstrate that Engoron cannot fairly oversee the case.

“Justice Engoron’s communications with Attorney Adam Leitman Bailey regarding the merits of this case, however, directly violate that code and demonstrate that Judge Engoron cannot serve as a fair arbiter. It is clear that Judge Engoron should recuse himself immediately,” Habba said.

In a separate statement, defense attorney Chris Kise said Engoron’s recusal is the only way to preserve the court’s reputation.

“The staggering $464 million judgment entered against President Trump in a case with no victims, no fraud, no loss and no harm to any public or private interest has already imperiled public confidence in the integrity of the New York legal system. Now serious allegations of prohibited communications between the judge and a third party are under active investigation by the Judicial Conduct Commission. Thus, the Court has proceeded not only in contravention of controlling law and the Constitution, but perhaps also contrary to the governing standards of judicial conduct,” Kise said.

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Migrant in US illegally was previously deported prior to allegedly killing woman: ICE

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(NEW YORK) — The man accused of murdering a Maryland woman in 2023 is an undocumented immigrant who was arrested and expelled at least three times, according to an ICE official.

Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez is accused of murdering Rachel Morin in August of 2023. He was arrested last week by authorities in Oklahoma and sent to Maryland to stand trial on murder charges.

Martinez-Hernandez, who is from El Salvador, entered the country on Jan. 19, 2023, near Santa Teresa, New Mexico. He was expelled on Jan. 31, 2024, near El Paso, and again near New Mexico on Feb. 6 under the Title 42 authority.

Title 42, a Trump-era policy that expelled migrants under the auspices of a public health emergency, was phased out in May of 2023 by the Biden Administration.

An ICE spokesperson said that Martinez-Hernandez was placed on an ICE detainer with the Tulsa County Jail before being extradited to Maryland to face charges.

“On June 14, officers from the Tulsa, Oklahoma, police department and agents from the FBI arrested Victor Antonio Martinez-Hernandez, a 23-year-old unlawfully present Salvadoran national wanted by authorities in Harford County, Maryland, for the Aug. 6, 2023, murder of Rachel Morin. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lodged an immigration detainer against Martinez-Hernandez with the Tulsa County Jail June 15, 2024,” ICE Spokesperson James Covington said in a statement.

“On June 20, 2024, authorities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, successfully extradited Martinez-Hernandez to Harford County, Maryland. Martinez-Hernandez currently remains in the Harford County Jail pending trial,” he added.

ABC wasn’t immediately able to find a legal representative for Martinez-Hernandez.

Morin, a 37-year-old mother of five, was found dead on a hiking trail in Bel Air, Maryland on Aug. 6, 2023, a day after her boyfriend reported her missing.

Martinez-Hernandez was found and arrested after a 10-month search, which involved using DNA evidence to track him down.

Investigators said they believe Martinez-Hernandez attacked Morin while she was hiking, dragged her through a wooded area, then killed her in a nearby drainage culvert.

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Donald Sutherland, veteran actor and father of Kiefer Sutherland, dead at 88

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(NEW YORK) — Actor Donald Sutherland, who starred in films including “Klute,” “M*A*SH*,” “Ordinary People” and, more recently, played the evil President Snow in “The Hunger Games” franchise, has died at age 88.

Sutherland’s son, actor Kiefer Sutherland, posted the news to social media.

“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away,” Sutherland wrote. “I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film. Never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that. A life well lived.”

Born on July 17, 1935, in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, Donald Sutherland got his start in acting as a student and went on to a prolific career that included nearly 150 film credits and over 40 television roles.

His first acting roles were in the early television series “Man of the World” and “Suspense.” He had more small roles across television in film throughout the 1960s before landing the role of Vernon L. Pinkley in the 1967 World War II classic film, “The Dirty Dozen.”

Donald Sutherland then played Army surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in director Robert Altman’s 1970 film version of “M*A*S*H,” which inspired the classic TV series. The role launched a series of film roles and projects for the actor throughout the 1970s, including the drama “Klute” in 1971, in which he starred alongside Jane Fonda, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her role.

In 1980, Donald Sutherland starred opposite Mary Tyler Moore in the Robert Redford-directed drama “Ordinary People,” which also starred Judd Hirsch and 20-year-old Timothy Hutton, who became the youngest-ever Best Supporting Actor Oscar-winner for his role in the film, one of five Academy Awards it won.

The actor returned to Broadway in 1981 after his 1969 debut in “Buck White,” and starred in the Edward Albee-adapted play of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, “Lolita.”

Following Broadway, Sutherland continued to star in many notable films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including “A Dry White Season” in 1989 alongside Marlon Brando, and in writer/director Oliver Stone’s controversial “JFK” in 1991, with Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon and Tommy Lee Jones.

In the 2000s, Donald Sutherland’s career in film continued to thrive with roles in the action comedy “Space Cowboys” in 2000, the Civil War drama “Cold Mountain” in 2003, in which he starred in with Nicole Kidman, and the heist film “The Italian Job” in 2003, with Charlize Theron.

Sutherland also portrayed Mr. Bennett in the 2005 film adaptation of “Pride & Prejudice,” with Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Rosamund Pike and more.

Sutherland reached a new generation of fans when he starred in four films in “The Hunger Games” action drama franchise, playing Coriolanus Snow, the tyrannical president of the fictional Panem. The franchise’s star-studded cast included Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci and more.

While speaking with “Good Morning America” in 2015 about “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” Donald Sutherland said of playing President Snow, “he’s not misunderstood, he runs a totalitarian state — he’s an oligarch,” adding, “I just wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to end my life being part of something that I thought would maybe catalyze and revolutionize young people.”

Tom Blyth, who played a young Coriolanus Snow in “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” paid tribute to Donald Sutherland on Instagram and wrote, “Donald Sutherland came about as close to mastering the craft of acting as anyone gets.”

“So may genius performances,” he continued. “I never had the honor of knowing him personally, but it was the honor of a lifetime to follow in his footsteps. Thank you sir for birthing one of the great movie characters of all time.”

Donald Sutherland’s final on-screen role was as the no-nonsense Judge Isaac Parker in the 2023 Western television miniseries “Lawmen: Bass Reeves,” opposite star David Oyelowo.

In 2017, Sutherland was presented with an Honorary Academy Award for his body of work, and was introduced and lauded onstage by his “The Hunger Games” co-star and fellow Oscar winner Lawrence.

“This is very important to me, to my family,” Sutherland said at the time. “It’s like a door is opened and a cool, wonderfully fresh breath of air has come in. I wish I could say thank you to all of the characters that I’ve played. Thank them for using their lives to inform my life,” he added.

“And of course, thank you to Francine Racette, from whom everything has come — that’s my family — from whom everything has come and to whom everything is owed,” he continued, referring to his wife. “I have been a partner to her for over 45 years. And in all that she has supported me with her intelligence, her intuition, her instruction, her ability to make me laugh in the direst of situations. Her extraordinary sense of taste, her residual belief in me. Amongst all of these, her ability to absorb and sustain the extraordinary ups and downs of this crazy movie life we have gone through. She deserves a medal for that.”

Sutherland’s memoir, titled “Made Up, but Still True,” to be published by Penguin Random House, is due in November.

Donald Sutherland is survived by his five children: twins Kiefer and Rachel Sutherland, whom he shares with the late actress Shirley Jean Douglas, as well as Rossif, Roeg and Angus Redford Sutherland, whom he shares with Racette.

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Service restored to Amtrak, NJ Transit after earlier suspension

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(NEW YORK) — Amtrak service between Philadelphia and New Haven, Connecticut, resumed on Thursday evening after train service was suspended for over two hours as crews worked to restore power in the New York area, Amtrak said.

“Significant delays are anticipated due to rail congestion and single-tracking,” Amtrak said in a statement to passengers after service was restored.

The outage included trains in and out of New York Penn Station, Amtrak said.

New Jersey Transit resumed service of its trains into Penn Station after it also had to suspend service in the afternoon due to the Amtrak issue.

An unrelated brush fire was impacting wire repairs, according to Amtrak and NJ Transit.

The outage was reported shortly after Amtrak warned that the extreme heat in the Northeast might force trains to slow down, causing up to one-hour delays. It was not immediately clear if the service suspension was caused by the heat.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Family of black belts saves woman from alleged sexual assault

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(KATY, Texas.) — A family of taekwondo black belts in Texas rescued a woman who was allegedly being sexually assaulted.

Han An, wife Hong An and their three children Hannah, Simon and Christian, all of whom have black belts in the Korean martial art, came to the aid Tuesday of a cell phone store employee who worked directly next to their dojo, Yong-In Tae Kwon Do in Katy, Texas, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

“When we already opened the door, the male was on top of the female already on the inside the employees’ room,” Hannah An told ABC News of the alleged attack. “So, by that moment, my dad grabbed him, dragged him out, and the girl was really, really crying, desperately crying, and then she ran towards me. She needed the comfort, the calming down, and then she wanted to go away from that situation.”

“They were able to pull the female away from her attacker,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez wrote in a statement on Facebook. “The male then turned to attack the good Samaritans. By utilizing their training and discipline, they managed to stop the assault and hold him.”

The Harris County Attorney’s Office identified the alleged attacker as Alex Robinson, 19, of Katy. Robinson has been charged with felony attempted sexual assault, according to the county attorney.

Han An said that he first saw Robinson on a bicycle around 2:00 p.m. the day of the alleged attack, riding up and down the adjacent plaza and looking into different stores. About two hours later, when Han An was inside his dojo, he said he saw Robinson and the victim physically tussling outside. The eighth-degree black belt said he thought they were playfully horsing around.

Shortly thereafter, however, Han An said he heard screaming coming from the cell phone store next door. All five members of the family rushed into the store, where Han An said they found Robinson on top of the woman.

Hannah and Hong An escorted the woman out of the store and comforted her, Hannah An told ABC News, adding that the frightened woman told her they “came just in time.” Han, Simon and Christian An stayed in the cell phone store as they subdued Robinson and waited about 15 minutes for sheriff’s deputies to arrive, according to Han An.

Han An told ABC News that the alleged attacker bit him twice and scratched him as he restrained him. One of his sons then attacked Robinson to stop him from assaulting his father, according to the family.

Robinson is currently in custody with bond set at $100,000, according to the Harris County Attorney’s Office, and will be arraigned on Friday.

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Top Florida law enforcement official sues DeSantis, alleging he was fired for blowing the whistle

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(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — A former top law enforcement official in Florida is accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis and his top aides of forcing him to retire after he refused to carry out orders he says were illegal or inappropriate, according to a lawsuit filed overnight.

Shane Desguin, a career employee of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, rose to become the agency’s chief of staff. He alleges his retirement in November was actually a “wrongful termination” and was the result of him blowing the whistle on a host of issues, including violations of state public records laws, illegal orders to arrest demonstrators without probable cause and directives to obtain photos and personal information of migrants flown to the Sunshine State without legal justification.

“Despite his stellar work performance during his employment,” the lawsuit says, Desguin “was subjected to disparate treatment, different terms and conditions of employment, and held to a different standard because he reported Defendants’ malfeasance, gross misconduct and unlawful employment activities and was subject to retaliation thereafter.”

The lawsuit was filed in state Circuit Court in Tallahassee and names DeSantis and FDLE, long viewed as one of the nation’s premier state-level law-enforcement agencies. Desguin is seeking unspecified damages and names both FDLE and DeSantis as defendants.

DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern declined to comment, saying the administration would address the allegations in court.

Some of Desguin’s accusations have filtered into public view in recent months in the wake of his retirement and the subsequent firing of his former deputy, Patricia Carpenter. They are currently at the center of a separate lawsuit filed by the Washington Post, seeking records related to DeSantis’ travel while he was mounting an ultimately unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for president.

Politico reported earlier this month that both Desguin and Carpenter were investigated by FDLE and were found to have violated workplace rules. Prosecutors declined to pursue criminal charges.

FDLE spokeswoman Dana Kelly told ABC News the agency “has not been noticed of this suit and we do not comment on any pending litigation. However, an internal investigation evidenced numerous acts of gross misconduct by Desguin….We are glad that our association with these bad actors (Desguin and Carpenter) has ended, considering the disturbing allegations that were substantiated after a thorough investigation.”

Both Desguin and Carpenter, according to the lawsuit, were subjected to an internal investigation built on bogus accusations, a “thinly veiled attempt at character assassination,” which occurred because they blew the whistle.

While he declined to comment on the lawsuit, Redfern on Thursday pointed to the findings of that probe and a previous comment by FDLE’s communications director, Gretl Plessinger: “Shane Desguin and Patricia Carpenter created workplace chaos, endangered the safety of other employees, and acted dishonestly and unprofessionally.”

Desguin’s attorney, Marie Mattox, said she had no comment beyond the complaint filed in court.

Desguin’s lawsuit says that when he was forced to retire last year, he received formal notification of his departure from the agency he joined in 2005 that said: “Retired. Not involving misconduct.”

The new lawsuit alleges that problems for Desguin began in late 2021, when Desguin was leading the agency’s Office of Statewide Intelligence and had been given new responsibilities in dealing with the influx of migrants who were being flown to Florida by the federal government.

Desguin alleges that DeSantis, through a senior official, ordered him to obtain “photographs, biometric data, and any other pertinent information by engaging with migrants at the airport. As these requests escalated, (Desguin) objected, and emphasized, on multiple occasions…FDLE could not legally conduct name checks, capture photographs, or compile intelligence files without a criminal predicate or reasonable suspicion, as those actions would be unlawful.”

The issue did not end there and, Desguin alleges, he continued voicing his concerns. When officials suggested transporting migrants out of Florida by bus, he told his superiors such a move could amount to “false imprisonment or kidnapping,” according to the complaint.

In September 2023, Desguin alleges a senior aide to DeSantis said the governor wanted him to make arrests at a demonstration of “neo-Nazis” in Orlando because it would have political benefit. Desguin allegedly pushed back, saying officers couldn’t arrest anyone simply for expressing their views.

According to the complaint, Desguin was told, “I don’t think you understand. If you look hard enough, you can find a way. The Governor [DeSantis] wants someone arrested today. He [Defendant DeSantis] will stand by you in any arrest.”

Ultimately, arrests were made, according to the lawsuit.

The end of Desguin’s career at FDLE, according to the lawsuit, came after weeks of internal discussions over the hot-button issue of releasing the agency’s records related to the governor’s travel as he tried to wrest the GOP nomination from former President Donald Trump. After having played a role in revising Florida’s public records law, Desguin alleges it was clear to him that DeSantis’ refusal to release the records violated the statute and its intent.

At the same time, an agency lawyer who was in line for promotion to oversee all agency records requests agreed with Desguin’s assessment and threatened to quit over the issue, according to the complaint.

The governor and his team, according to the lawsuit, directed FDLE to withhold the records and refused to allow the attorney who disagreed with them to be promoted. They also allegedly inquired whether the lawyer was a member of conservative legal organization The Federalist Society, implying that would help move the promotion along.

According to the lawsuit, Desguin went ahead and authorized a raise for the attorney despite the governor’s orders. That infuriated the governor’s office and Desguin was ordered to rescind the salary change. Then, he alleges, he and Carpenter were suspended.

He allegedly was forced to retire or he would be fired.

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USC student will not be charged in fatal stabbing of homeless person

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(LOS ANGELES) — A University of Southern California student will not face charges for the fatal stabbing of a homeless man he said was done in self-defense.

Ivan Gallegos, 19, was arrested on suspicion of murder Monday night in the death of 27-year-old Xavier Cerf.

Police said Gallegos saw Cerf breaking into his car in the parking lot behind his fraternity house on Monday night. According to police, Cerf told him he had a gun, at which point the student stabbed him.

On Thursday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said the department had reviewed the incident and decided not to bring charges against Gallegos.

“We believe that Mr. Gallegos’s actions were driven by a genuine fear for his life and the lives of others,” Gascón said in a statement. “Our heart goes out to the deceased’s family, friends and everyone impacted by this tragic incident.“

Gallegos, who is from Los Angeles, had previously been booked into jail and held on $2 million bail.

He is a member of Delta Tau Delta, a woman who manages the fraternity house told ABC 7.

Last month, the school’s Annenberg Media put out a profile on Gallego, who they described as an up-and-coming musician and a student in the business school.

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Charges to be dropped against most pro-Palestinian protesters from Columbia University

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(NEW YORK) — The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Thursday moved to dismiss the charges against most of the pro-Palestinian protesters arrested at Columbia University and nearby City College, though prosecutors are moving forward with cases against a handful of protesters who allegedly assaulted police officers.

Prosecutors said they’re hamstrung by “extremely limited video or surveillance footage of what occurred inside Hamilton Hall” since most cameras were covered by the protesters.

Charges against 31 people will be dropped, though they’re still subject to discipline by Columbia University since they’re students or staff.

“In light of those disciplinary proceedings, the People move to dismiss these cases,” prosecutors said.

The district attorney’s office offered adjournments to 12 other defendants who are not employees or students at Columbia University provided they stay out of trouble.

The cases against six defendants who are charged with assaulting police officers at either Columbia or City College remain ongoing.

The protest movement connected to the Israel-Hamas war began in April at Columbia and swept across college campuses nationwide.

Hundreds of protesters were arrested at campuses across the country, while encampments were torn down and events canceled.

Columbia University canceled its large graduation ceremony on the main lawn where a protest encampment had been based before the NYPD dismantled it in May.

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Trump urges Georgia court to reject Fulton County DA Fani Willis’ effort to dismiss disqualification appeal

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(ATLANTA) — Former President Donald Trump on Thursday urged the Georgia Court of Appeals to reject Fulton County DA Fani Willis’ effort to dismiss his appeal of the judge’s decision not to disqualify her from Trump’s election interference case in the state.

Calling Wills’ effort a “desperate bid to avoid disqualification,” Trump’s attorneys urged the appeals court to allow the issue to move forward.

The filing comes in response to Willis’ motion last week that asked the Court of Appeals to dismiss Trump’s appeal of a lower court’s decision to allow Willis to remain on the case.

Trump and 18 others pleaded not guilty last August to all charges in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia. Four defendants subsequently took plea deals in exchange for agreeing to testify against other defendants.

Willis was allowed to stay on the case after Judge Scott McAfee declined to outright disqualify her despite finding there was a “significant appearance of impropriety” stemming from a romantic relationship between Willis and a top prosecutor on her team.

The election interference case has essentially been halted as Trump’s appeal of the disqualification ruling makes its way through the courts.

In his filing Thursday, Trump attorney Steve Sadow criticized Willis’ efforts to have Trump’s appeal dismissed, saying, “Simply stated, the State’s motion is a calculated, disingenuous attempt to mislead this Court for the obvious purpose of preventing interlocutory appellate review of the District Attorney’s misconduct.”

The Court of Appeals has already agreed to hear Trump’s appeal of the disqualification decision, and earlier this month it paused the election case pending the outcome — a move that experts said is likely to delay the election interference case until after the election.

Willis’ office last week sought to have the appeals court dismiss the appeal by claiming there was “lack of sufficient evidence” to support a reversal of the lower court’s ruling, in which Judge McAfee made a factual finding after multiple public hearings that Willis had no actual conflict of interest in the case resulting from her relationship with prosecutor Nathan Wade.

The DA’s filing argued that only in “very rare circumstances” can appeals courts “disturb” a lower court’s factual finding unless the filing is “flatly incorrect.”

“The trial court’s careful and extensive evaluation of the resulting record, and its utter dismissal of the central evidence proffered by the Appellants, forecloses any possibility of reversal,” the filing from the DA’s office stated.

Trump’s attorney pushed back on the DA’s request by saying the DA’s office has “no proper procedural vehicle to relitigate this Court’s sound decision to hear the merits” of the appeal.

“Of course, as this Court well knows, that has never been, and is not now, the law,” Sadow wrote in his filing.

Sadow also said that most of the issues in Trump’s appeal involve legal issues, including what he called McAfee’s “misinterpretation of misapplication” of the legal standard for disqualification — not issues about the factual findings, as the DA’s motion states.

“The focus of these appeals will be the legal errors that the trial court committed below, errors that this Court has plenary authority to review and decide,” Sadow said.

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Man critically injured after being struck by roller coaster at Ohio amusement park


(MASON, Ohio.) — A 38-year-old man was critically injured at a Mason, Ohio, amusement park Wednesday night after being hit by a roller coaster.

The man had entered a restricted, fenced area of the Kings Island theme park near the Banshee roller coaster “and is believed to have been struck by the ride” around 8 p.m., a spokesperson for the park said in a statement.

The park’s safety and first aid workers responded at the scene, and the man was transported to the hospital.

As of Thursday morning, police said the man remained in critical condition.

A witness said the man told a park employee he had lost something on the ride and needed to go back to get it, according to Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO.

The employee reportedly said he would not be able to do anything until the ride closed, but the man continued to wander in the ride’s vicinity and eventually passed through a restricted gate, WCPO reported.

The witness told WCPO the man had been dressed in clothing similar to park staff, so some had thought he was an employee.

The Banshee roller coaster will remain closed while officials investigate the incident, the park spokesperson said.

“Kings Island’s focus continues to be on the welfare of the guest and his family,” they said.

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