Trump’s Fate Hangs in the Balance as Judge Chutkan Is Advised to Prepare for Possible Incarceration

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of UC Berkeley School of Law, has articulated his stance on the possibility of Judge Tanya Chutkan imposing a gag order on Donald Trump in an op-ed piece featured in the Fresno Bee.

While expressing his disapproval of some of Trump’s critical comments directed towards the prosecutors and investigators who have brought forth a staggering 91 indictments against him, Chemerinsky asserted that Trump is entitled to exercise his First Amendment rights to express his opinions, regardless of how unpopular they may be.

As reported by Raw Story on Friday, October 13, 2023, Chemerinsky underscored the fundamental principle that Trump, like any other citizen, has the right to criticize a prosecution, prosecutor, or judge, as long as he does not resort to witness intimidation, which is not protected by the First Amendment.

Despite the concerns that Trump’s persistent criticism of the legal proceedings may undermine their credibility and potentially incite violence, Chemerinsky maintained that the government, including the judiciary, should never attempt to enhance its legitimacy by stifling criticism.

He also pointed out that given the extensive media coverage and scrutiny surrounding Trump’s every utterance, it is improbable that he could significantly influence potential jurors with his opinions on how the legal system is handling his case.

Short of making explicit, violent threats, Trump’s comments are unlikely to prejudice potential jurors.

Nevertheless, Chemerinsky cautioned that if Judge Chutkan decides to impose a gag order, she must be prepared to enforce it rigorously, even if it involves resorting to jail time as a punitive measure for contempt if Trump violates the terms of the order.

The legal expert suggested that Trump might disregard the gag order either due to his inability to control himself or as a deliberate act to provoke the judge.

Furthermore, Chemerinsky pointed out that Trump has a history of portraying himself as a martyr and victim, and a gag order could inadvertently play into this narrative. Putting him in jail for contempt, rather than silencing him, might be perceived by Trump as a reward for his defiance.

While Erwin Chemerinsky recognizes the concerns regarding Trump’s criticism potentially influencing the legal proceedings, he emphasizes the importance of upholding the principles of free speech.

If Judge Chutkan decides to implement a gag order, she must be ready to employ strong enforcement measures, including the possibility of jail time, if Trump chooses to defy it.

The delicate balance between maintaining free speech rights and ensuring a fair legal process remains a central issue in this ongoing debate.

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