Feb 15, 2024 - Politics & Policy

What to know about Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing Trump's hush money case

Donald Trump attends a pre-trial hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court on February 15

Donald Trump attends a pre-trial hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court on Feb. 15. Photo: Brendan McDermid-Pool/Getty Images

Acting New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan is set oversee former President Trump's trial next month over a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Why it matters: This will be Trump's first criminal trial and will take him away from the 2024 campaign trail as the expected rematch between him and President Biden heats up.

Merchan's background

Born in Colombia, Merchan moved to the U.S. when he was six years old and grew up in New York City, per AP.

  • He received his bachelor's degree from Baruch College and a law degree from Hofstra University, according to his LinkedIn page.
  • Merchan, a former prosecutor, has more than 16 years on the bench, having been appointed a judge in Bronx family court back in 2006. In 2009, he was made an acting state Supreme Court justice, overseeing felony criminal cases, NBC News reported.

Involvement in Trump cases

Merchan, who has been overseeing Trump's hush money case, declined to recuse himself from the case last August after Trump's lawyers requested he do so amid allegations of bias.

  • However, this isn't the first time Merchan has presided over cases involving Trump and those close to him.
  • Merchan also oversaw the criminal tax fraud case against the Trump Organization, in which a jury found two companies from the organization guilty on 17 counts.
  • Merchan also sentenced the Trump Organization's former CFO Allen Weisselberg to five months in jail and five years of probation for tax fraud in a separate case.
  • In addition, Merchan is presiding over a case involving former Trump adviser Steve Bannon over allegations that Bannon defrauded donors to a fundraiser to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Bannon is set to face trial in May.
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