A New York Supreme Court judge ruled that 2018 communications with adult film star Stormy Daniels should not sideline defense attorney Joe Tacopina from representing former President Donald Trump in his criminal trial related to an alleged hush money scheme to silence Daniels.
Daniels’ communications with Tacopina and others at his firm included details relating to Daniels’ situation when she was seeking legal representation in 2018, her current lawyer, Clark Brewster, told CNN in March.
Brewster, who claimed the communications show a disclosure of confidential information from Daniels, said he gave the exchanges to prosecutors. Ethics experts told CNN at the time that limits could be placed on Tacopina, including disqualification.
Instead, Tacopina won’t question Daniels if she takes the stand at trial. “The court accepts your suggestion that you do not participate in the examination of Ms. Daniels if she is called as a witness at trial,” Judge Juan Merchan wrote.
Tacopina has maintained there is no conflict of interest and said no confidential information was shared with him or his office.
Merchan ultimately sided with Trump’s lawyer in a letter penned earlier this month telling Tacopina that he accepts the defense attorney’s representations that there is no conflict.
The judge also said he’d revisit the issue with Trump at his next court appearance in February.
“I have said from Day One there is no conflict. Now the court has said the same,” Tacopina told CNN Monday in response to the letter.
Prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office first flagged the potential conflict to Merchan at Trump’s arraignment in April, saying Daniels will likely be a witness at Trump’s criminal trial.
Trump, who has denied the alleged affair with Daniels, has pleaded not guilty to charges related to the alleged hush money scheme.
Merchan instructed the former president to seek advice from other attorneys on the matter while it played out.
Since the April arraignment, the parties submitted briefs and met for a sealed proceeding in July to further discuss the potential conflict, according to Merchan’s letter.