Donald Trump could appear in court before inauguration in Trump University class-action lawsuit

By News Corp Australia Network, staff writers, AP

President - elect Donald Trump is due to go to court this week. Photo / AP
President - elect Donald Trump is due to go to court this week. Photo / AP

Donald Trump is scheduled to go on trial this month in a class-action lawsuit against him and his now-defunct Trump University, potentially taking the witness stand weeks before his inauguration as president of the United States.

US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the Indiana-born jurist who was accused of bias by Mr Trump during the campaign for his Mexican heritage, will hold a hearing on Thursday on jury instructions and what evidence to allow at trial, which begins on November 28.

Among the flurry of requests from both sides to be considered is a highly unusual petition by Mr Trump's lawyers to exclude any statements made by or about their client during the presidential campaign.

The request would apply to Mr Trump's tweets, a video of him making sexually predatory comments about women, his tax history, revelations about his private charitable foundation and public criticisms about the judge in the case.

Mr Trump's lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, told the judge last month that evidence tied to the campaign would be irrelevant to the civil fraud case and may prejudice or inflame a jury, jeopardising rights to a fair trial.

He warned that allowing the jury to consider Mr Trump's remarks "carries an immediate and irreparable danger of extreme and irremediable prejudice to defendants, confusion of issues and waste of time."

The lawsuit filed in 2010 on behalf of former customers alleges that Trump University, which was not accredited as a school, gave seminars and classes across the country that were like infomercials, pressuring people to spend up to $US35,000 (NZ$$48.565) for mentorships and, in the end, failing on its promise to teach success in real estate. The claims mirror another class-action complaint in San Diego and a lawsuit in New York.

Mr Petrocelli told reporters in May that Mr Trump planned to attend most, if not all, of the trial and would testify.

"He has very, very strong feelings about this case," Mr Petrocelli said at the time.

At the May hearing, Mr Petrocelli asked for a trial after Inauguration Day on January 20, but the judge raised concerns about distractions if Mr Trump won the election.

The lawyer said the period between the election and swearing-in is extremely hectic for a president-elect but that it was preferable to holding a trial during the campaign.

- news.com.au

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