Donald J. Trump’s coming civil fraudtrial, which stems from a lawsuit filed by the New York State attorney general against the former president and his family business, may last nearly three months, according to the state court judge who will preside over the proceeding.
The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, had already set a start date of Oct. 2, months before the 2024 presidential primaries are set to start. But in an order made public on Friday, he wrote that the trial was scheduled to end by Dec. 22.
The trial could end up taking far less time. But if it even approaches the scheduled length, it will further complicate Mr. Trump’s schedule as he makes a third run for president while preparing for the four criminal trials he also faces.
The lawsuit from the attorney general, Letitia James, accuses Mr. Trump — along with two of his adult sons, his company and other defendants — of lying about the value of his apartment buildings, hotels, golf courses and other assets to obtain favorable terms on loans and other business transactions.
The lawsuit is a whopping 215 pages, and is filled with allegations about the methods Mr. Trump used to fraudulently boost the value of specific properties, from his triplex apartment in Trump Tower to the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. Ms. James has said that the practices inflated Mr. Trump’s annual net worth by between 17 and 39 percent at a minimum each year — which amounts to between $812 million and $2.2 billion. (In a new filing, unsealed on Friday, she said assessments from her own experts had raised that maximum number to $3.6 billion a year, which she still characterized as a “conservative estimate.”)
Yet Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that a ruling from an appeals court earlier this summer effectively shrank the lawsuit to a fraction of its original size, and that many of its claims should now be thrown out because they stem from business transactions that took place before a legal deadline.
Justice Engoron has yet to address that argument — he is expected to do so later this month — but his plan for the trial to last nearly three months could signal that he is unlikely to significantly narrow the case.
The civil trial is set to take place before Mr. Trump’s criminal trials, the earliest of which is scheduled for March 2024.
Ms. James is seeking to exact a hefty fine from Mr. Trump and to bar the Trump family from ever running a business in New York again. Her office lacks the authority to file criminal charges in this case, though she has indicated she believes that Mr. Trump broke state criminal laws.
The trial is not expected to be a scintillating affair. Ms. James’s claims are based on analysis of complicated legal transactions, each of which will be subject to scrutiny, with multiple experts likely to weigh in. The exhibits will be numerous and the cast of witnesses sprawling. And because there are so many defendants, some with their own lawyers, it could take days to examine some of the witnesses. It is not clear whether Mr. Trump will testify.
Justice Engoron said in his order that the trial would proceed five days a week, ending early on Fridays to allow the court to attend to other business.