Jonathan Turley calls out bar association for condemning calling Trump trial 'corrupt and rigged'

"Our legal system has nothing to fear from criticism," Turley said.

Published: June 16, 2024 2:20pm

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley condemned the Connecticut Bar Association for telling members that calling the trial of former President Donald Trump "corrupt and rigged" is "reckless" and risks inflaming violence.

Following the Trump trial, public officials have called the trial a "sham" and "rigged," and have said the justice system and Judge Juan Merchan are "corrupt and rigged" and that the jury was "partisan," the state bar association said in its message Friday.

Such accusations, according to the association, "are unsubstantiated and reckless," and "can provoke acts of violence against those serving the public as employees of the judicial branch."

The association said that "free speech includes criticism," such as "commenting on the decision to bring the prosecution, the prosecution’s legal theory, the judge’s rulings, or the verdict itself," but that public officials went too far.

"[B]aseless allegations made by public officials cross the line from criticism to dangerous rhetoric. They have no place in the public discourse," the group said.

Turley on Saturday wrote an op-ed for Fox News stating that he has previously expressed concerns about "how such rage rhetoric can encourage violence," but his issue is with the association's "suggestion that lawyers are acting somehow unprofessionally in denouncing what many view as a two-tier system of justice and the politicization of our legal system."

Turley said he views the Manhattan case against Trump to be a "flagrant example of such weaponization of the legal system."

He also called out the bar association for not denouncing attacks on the Justice Department under Trump or on conservative Supreme Court justices. 

"Our legal system has nothing to fear from criticism. Indeed, free speech strengthens our system by exposing divisions and encouraging dialogue. It is orthodoxy and speech intolerance that represent the most serious threats to that system," Turley wrote.

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