ACTL Issues Statement Condemning Former President Trump's Personal Attacks on Judges

NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA (April 2, 2024) - The American College of Trial Lawyers, acting through its Board of Regents and Executive Committee, condemns the recent vitriolic statements made by former President Donald Trump attacking the character, integrity and sanity of the judges and prosecutors handling the cases against him, with accusations that they are “sick,” “deranged,” “evil,” “corrupt,” and “crooked.” These attacks were aimed not only at the judges and prosecutors, but at a family member of one judge as well. In social media posts, Mr. Trump accused the daughter of the New York judge assigned to oversee his criminal case of being a “Rabid Trump hater” and claimed – falsely – that she had posted on social media a photo of him behind bars. Mr. Trump identified her by name and posted a photo of her online.

Attacks like these are dangerous because they risk provoking violence against judges, prosecutors, and their families. They also undermine the public’s trust in the rule of law, and threaten the independence of the judiciary because they are intimidating. We agree with the comments of U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, who said about Mr. Trump’s attacks on judges: “We do these jobs because we’re committed to the rule of law and we believe in the rule of law, and the rule of law can only function effectively when we have judges who are prepared to carry out their duties without the threat of potential physical harm.”

We recognize, of course, the former President’s right to engage in political speech. But speech that is intended, or appears intended, to provoke violence or to intimidate those engaged in public service – such as judges and prosecutors – has no place in our system and puts our very democracy at risk. It should be universally condemned.

Founded in 1950, the American College is dedicated to maintaining and improving the standards of trial practice, professional ethics, and the administration of justice. The College is an invitation-only fellowship of lawyers in the United States and Canada who have achieved acknowledged distinction in trial practice. The College has no ties to any political party or any partisan endeavors. The Mission Statement of the College underscores the critical importance to our democracy of an independent judiciary and respect for the rule of law. We write today to emphasize those principles. Judges must decide cases with faithfulness to the law, without fear or favor, and free from the influence of political storms or other external pressure.

We call upon all lawyers and their professional organizations to rededicate themselves to preserving a fair and impartial court system, and to protecting the independence and safety of our judges. Our obligations as lawyers to our system of justice and to those who serve on the bench demand no less of us.

To read the full Press Release, click here.