Judge rules that Trump must stand trial in Trump University lawsuit
Donald Trump will be forced to stand trial in an investigation over Trump University’s alleged racketeering, a federal judge has ruled. However, earlier videos of the candidate’s deposition won’t be made public before the November election.
Judge Gonzalo Curiel on Tuesday instructed the GOP nominee to stand trial following the November election as part of the investigation into Trump University’s alleged violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Trump University charged up $35,000 for mentorship programs, but students claim that the program fails to live up to promises are accusing the billionaire of defrauding them in the class-action lawsuit.
Curiel rejected a motion by Trump’s attorneys to dismiss the case, concluding that former students who were possibly defrauded by the university had the right to ask Trump questions about whether he “knowingly participated in a scheme to defraud.”
While the instructors were advertised as being "hand-picked" by Donald Trump, Curiel said that there was significant evidence that Trump had not personally met, interviewed or selected Trump University instructors.
Trump’s motion for a summary judgment was also denied, and the case is now set to be heard by a jury.
“The core question is whether the public’s interest in viewing the demeanor of Defendant in the deposition videos outweighs the impairment to judicial efficiency likely to result,” he wrote in his order. “The Court concludes that it does not.”
If Trump is loses the case, he could be forced to pay civil penalties in the tens of millions, due to the RICO Act requiring defendants to pay legal fees to plaintiffs as well as paying triple in damages.
There is some good news for Trump, however. Curiel decided that the videos of his previous deposition won’t be made public before the election, though the transcripts were unsealed as of May 27.
Trump University is the subject of two class-action lawsuits in California. A third case, brought by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, is also set to go to trial after a Tuesday hearing.
The RICO Act was initially designed to help the government battle against organized crime, but has also been used to prosecute corporations that committed acts of fraud.