A gag order that barred Donald Trump from commenting about court personnel in his New York civil fraud trial after he maligned a key staffer was paused Thursday by an appellate judge who raised concerns that it violated the former president’s free speech rights.

Judge David Friedman, of the state’s intermediate appeals court, issued what’s known a stay — suspending the gag order and allowing Trump to freely comment about court staff while a longer appeals process plays out. Friedman’s ruling also applies to Trump’s lawyers and others involved in the case.

The trial judge, Arthur Engoron, imposed the gag order on Trump after the former president made a disparaging social media post about Engoron’s court clerk on trial’s second day, Oct. 2. Engoron later fined Trump $15,000 for violations and expanded the order to include his lawyers after they questioned the clerk’s prominent role in the courtroom.

Friedman questioned Engoron’s authority to police Trump’s speech outside the courtroom — such as his frequent gripes about the case on social media and in comments to TV cameras in the courthouse hallway. He acknowledged that judges often issue gag orders, but said they’re mostly used in criminal cases where there’s a fear that comments about the case could influence the jury.... Read More: WBAL