Donald Trump is writing him off as an enemy, but Judge Juan Merchan, who is expected to preside over the former president’s arraignment, is a veteran jurist with a reputation for being harsh but compassionate.

«He’s a serious, smart, even-tempered jurist,» said Ron Kuby, a longtime defense attorney in Manhattan. «He’s not one of those judges who yells at lawyers, and he’s characterized as a no-nonsense judge. But he’s always in control of the courtroom.»

Barry Kamins, a New York judge turned defense attorney, said his 60-year-old former colleague «is well known, even in difficult cases, for exhibiting an excellent temper, integrity and a solid knowledge of the law.»

Trump has a different view of Merchan, the acting state Supreme Court justice who will preside over Tuesday’s arraignment and likely oversee any subsequent trials.

On Friday morning, Trump criticized Merchan on his Truth Social social media website, while misspelling the judge’s last name.

“The judge ‘assigned’ to my witch-hunt case, a ‘case’ that HAS NEVER BEEN IN CHARGE BEFORE, HATES ME. His name is Juan Manuel Marchan,” Trump wrote, claiming that he had been “handpicked” into the case by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat.

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state court system, said Merchan had been randomly assigned to oversee grand jury investigations, and that the judges who oversee such investigations are assigned to try any case that arises from the grand jury.

Trump also complained about the judge’s handling of the recent criminal tax fraud trial involving the Trump Organization, which was fined $1.6 million after being found guilty on all 17 counts. The prosecution’s star witness in that case was former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who testified against the company as part of a plea deal.

Trump, on Truth Social, characterized Merchan as «the same person who ‘hooked’ my 75-year-old former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, into agreeing to a ‘plead’ deal (Plea GUILTY, even if you’re not, 90 DAYS , fight us in court, 10 years (for life!) in jail. He heavily armed Allen, which a judge can’t do, and treated my companies, who didn’t ‘declare,’ VICIOUSLY.»

Although Merchan signed Weisselberg’s plea agreement, the agreement was drawn up between Weisselberg, his attorneys, and the district attorney’s office.

Nicholas Gravante Jr, who represented Weisselberg in those guilty pleas, described Merchan in very different terms to Trump’s online attack.

“He was mindful of the role my colleagues and I played as advocates, treating each other with the utmost respect both in open court and behind closed doors,” Gravante said, adding that Merchan was “hands-on, knowledgeable, a real ‘listener,’ good -prepared and a man who kept his word».

At Weisselberg’s sentencing in January, Gravante asked Merchan for a shorter sentence than the five months he had agreed to. The judge denied the request, saying he believed «a harsher sentence might be appropriate after hearing the evidence» in the case, but that he felt obligated to abide by the deal he agreed to in August.

Attorney Gloria Allred, a Trump critic, said she believes Merchan is the «correct judge» for the secret money case, given his experience in the Trump Organization trial, but that his experience «may be the reason why that the defense seeks to obtain another judge». for this case.»

Trump’s indictment will be released at his arraignment on Tuesday, when he is expected to plead guilty in the case. Trump is the first former president to be criminally charged.

Arthur Aidala, a veteran criminal defense attorney who has been critic of Bragg’s research in hush money payments, he said Trump should feel good about Merchan overseeing the case.

Merchan is “known as a fair judge who doesn’t lean too much one way or the other. It’s a good place for President Trump to be,» Aidala said.

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Merchan moved to the United States with his family when he was six years old and grew up in Queens, New York. People familiar with his background said The New York Times last year that he got his first job hauling groceries for tips when he was nine years old.

Merchan held side jobs throughout high school and college, including washing dishes at a restaurant and working as a hotel night manager, the newspaper reported, before earning a business degree from Baruch College in 1990 and a law degree from the Hofstra University in 1994. He then went to work in the Manhattan district attorney’s office for five years before taking a job with the state attorney general’s office. Both offices would eventually be involved in a joint investigation of Trump’s finances a dozen years later.

Then-New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg appointed Merchan to be a Bronx family court judge in 2006. He was appointed an Acting State Supreme Court Justice in 2009, overseeing felony criminal cases.

Prior to the Trump Organization case, the two largest cases Merchan had presided over were in 2012: one case involved a murder suspect who said he had been cursed by a witch doctor, the other involved a woman they nicknamed » «soccer mom ladyby one of the city’s tabloids.

The witch doctor case came to an abrupt end when the suspect pleaded guilty mid-trial after Merchan denied his request to call a witch doctor to testify on his behalf. merchandise sentenced the defendant to 25 years in prison.

The call soccer mom lady The case involved a suburban woman who was accused of running a high-end prostitution ring. Ana Gristina he ultimately pleaded guilty to a single charge of promoting prostitution in exchange for a six-month sentence. Merchan signed the deal and sentence, but rebuked her for taking her 9-year-old son to court for sentencing.

The case inspired the 2021 Lifetime movie»soccer mom lady

Merchan’s current workload includes overseeing the criminal case against former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, accused of defrauding donors who were giving money to build a wall on the US southern border. Bannon has pleaded not guilty.