Nuevo Culture

Meet the Colombian Judge Presiding Over Donald Trump’s Criminal Case

Former U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to be formally arrested and arraigned Tuesday (April 3) after he was indicted last week by a Manhattan grand jury for hush money payments made before the 2016 presidential election. Presiding over the criminal case will be Juan Merchan, a veteran judge who is no stranger to Trump.

Last year, Merchan, who was born in Bogotá, Colombia, oversaw the criminal trial of the Trump Organization, which was ultimately fined $1.6 million for tax fraud. During that trial, Trump’s former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in prison for his role in the scheme. Trump was not a defendant in the case.

Merchan, who moved to the U.S. with his family when he was six, graduated from Baruch College in 1990 and earned a law degree from Hofstra University in 1994. He has been an acting Supreme Court justice in New York since 2009.

The judge is also overseeing a criminal case against former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is facing fraud charges stemming from funds he collected to help build Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall.

Although specific crimes are not yet known, it is believed that Trump will face approximately 30 criminal charges related to alleged fraud, including at least one felony.

Last week, Trump, who will be the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges, lashed out against Merchan on his Truth Social platform, writing that the judge “hates me” and that he “railroaded” Weisselberg during the Trump Organization trial.

In an email to CNN, Weisselberg’s attorney Nicholas Gravante said Merchan “was efficient, practical, and listened carefully” to what he had to say.

Manhattan defense attorney Ron Kuby described Merchan to NBC News as “a serious jurist, smart and even-tempered” and a “no-nonsense judge” who is “always in control of the courtroom.”