A Judge’s Dilemma: How to Punish Trump for Gag Order Violations

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Donald J. Trump was cited for breaking the gag order in recent days. He had already been fined $9,000 for earlier violations.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Warned of Jail, Again, for His Attacks” (front page, May 7):

I applaud the evenhanded and insightful reporting on the hush money case against the former president, especially how it has highlighted the difficult position the recent contempt of court rulings have put the presiding judge, Juan Merchan, in.

The defendant, by his words and conduct in and out of court, has shown complete contempt for the rule of law and the authority of Justice Merchan. The judge made clear that he would imprison the defendant, if necessary. This, of course, is exactly what this defendant wants for political purposes to bolster his supposed victimization and galvanize his supporters.

Justice Merchan has shown that he is an evenhanded, calm and wise judge. No doubt he is pondering the ramifications of putting a former president and current candidate for president in prison.

What are his options? Not many, but there are alternatives to imprisonment, such as community service, collecting roadside refuse or cleaning public facilities — under guard at all times of course.

Such service outside of public view would be entirely appropriate and would not play into the political trap the defendant is setting by continuing to violate the gag order.

Roger W. Lawrence
Worcester, Mass.
The writer is a lawyer.

To the Editor:

Donald Trump may have mounted “a direct attack on the rule of law,” in the judge’s words, but where are the consequences beyond modest fines? And here I thought that no one was above the law. Foolish me.

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