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Law professor destroys Alvin Bragg's 'legal embarrassment' of a case — but still finds a way to blame Trump

Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A law professor argued Wednesday that the case Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg constructed against Donald Trump is a "disaster." Somehow, though, it is still partially Trump's fault, the lawyer claimed.

Fordham Law School professor Jed Handelsman Shugerman wrote in a New York Times essay that the 34 indictments Bragg secured against Trump are "more accurately" described as "34 half-indictments," suggesting the charges are weak and not easily defensible.

The case is even "a setback for the rule of law and established a dangerous precedent for prosecutor," according to Shugerman, who added:

The case appears so weak on its legal and jurisdictional basis that a state judge might dismiss the case and mitigate that damage. More likely, the case is headed to federal court for a year, where it could lose on the grounds of federal pre-emption — only federal courts have jurisdiction over campaign finance and filing requirements. Even if it survives a challenge that could reach the Supreme Court, a trial would most likely not start until at least mid-2024, possibly even after the 2024 election.

But the damning assessment did not stop Shugerman from blaming Trump for what he called a "legal embarrassment."

"This legal embarrassment reveals new layers of Trumpian damage to the legal foundations of the United States: Mr. Trump’s opponents react to his provocations and norms violations by escalating and accelerating the erosion of legal norms," Shugerman wrote.

The thesis of the article, then, is that Bragg has constructed a legally questionable case — with an "open-ended indictment" that doesn't specify "the core crime that would turn a filing misdemeanor into a felony" — as a response to Trump's alleged "norms violations."

Unfortunately, Shugerman does not clarify in his essay how Trump violated legal norms; he simply stated it as an a priori fact.

What Shugerman does do, however, is examine in damning fashion just how poor a case Bragg has constructed, touching on the indictment itself, potential Sixth Amendment violations, Bragg's convoluted legal theory, and the legal doctrine of pre-emption, thus calling into question whether Bragg even has the jurisdiction to prosecute alleged federal crimes.

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