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Trump Attends Court for Mandatory Pre-sentencing Interview 

Published: June 11, 2024
Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump greets supporters upon arrival for his campaign rally at Sunset Park on June 09, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Image: Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

On June 10, Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for this November’s U.S. presidential election, was in court again, this time for a pre-sentencing interview that lasted less than half an hour and consisted of routine questions and answers, according to the Associated Press, citing a person familiar with the matter. 

Trump was questioned by a New York City probation officer for a report that will eventually find its way to the desk of trial judge Juan M. Merchan, prior to Trump’s scheduled sentencing on July 11. 

Merchan will use the report to determine what consequences the former president will face after being found guilty on 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection to a payment he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels prior to winning the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

There are a wide range of possible consequences for Trump, from a fine, probation, or even imprisonment, though legal experts believe he is unlikely to be handed such a sentence given the precedents in New York state.

Trump attended Monday’s meeting via video conference from his residence at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, accompanied by his lawyer Todd Blanche. 

Typically, in New York, convicted felons must meet with their probation officers face-to-face for their pre-sentence interview and their lawyers are not allowed to be present, however this was not the case for Trump. The exception caused some to make accusations of preferential treatment, however Judge Merchan granted Trump permission to have his lawyer attend, and attending via video conference is permitted.

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‘Special arrangements’

The city’s public defenders criticized what they called “special arrangements” for Trump and urged authorities to “ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of income, status, or class, receive the same pre-sentencing opportunities.”

In a statement, four of the city’s public defender organizations said, “All people convicted of crimes should be allowed counsel in their probation interview, not just billionaires. This is just another example of our two-tiered system of justice.”

The Legal Aid Society, Bronx Defenders, New York County Defender Services and Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, said in the statement, “Pre-sentencing interviews with probation officers influence sentencing, and public defenders are deprived of joining their clients for these meetings. The option of joining these interviews virtually is typically not extended to the people we represent either.”

Regarding attending the meeting via video conference, a city spokesperson said that the probation department has allowed defendants to attend pre-sentencing hearings via video conference long before even the COVID-19 pandemic, PBS reported.  

Pre-sentence reports tend to include a defendant’s personal history, criminal record and any recommendations for sentencing. The interview is also a chance for a defendant to argue for a lighter sentence.