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University of Kentucky law professor calls Trump verdict “all new territory” for U.S. legal system

Former President Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on seven counts in the classified documents case.
Timothy A. Clary
Pool/Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on seven counts in the classified documents case.

After former president Donald Trump was convicted on 34 felony counts in New York last week, UK law professor Joshua Douglas says the U.S. legal system is entering new territory.

Trump was charged with falsifying business records to cover up a hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The charge carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, but legal experts told NPR the former President serving any amount of time for a first offense is unlikely.

He would also still be able to campaign and hold office as a felon.

UK professor Joshua Douglas specializes in election law and voting rights, and hosts Democracy Optimist at WEKU’s Eastern Standard. He says it’s still unclear what Trump’s final sentencing could look like.

“It's really hard to predict what will happen. I do think the judge will try to be consistent with other verdicts of the same kind, so he’s not want to treat Trump differently, one way or the other,” Douglas said. “So the only expectation I would have is that it would be consistent with how he's treated other similar situations.”

Trump has since stated he plans to appeal the case. But Douglas says at this point it’s hard to tell how successful it would be.

“There are some legal scholars who think that the New York prosecutors were stretched a little bit because they were invoking a somewhat novel legal theory,” Douglas said. “Other scholars think that this is the exact kind of conduct that the laws are intended to prevent.”

Trump’s sentencing date is scheduled for July 11.

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Shepherd joined WEKU in June 2023 as a staff reporter. He most recently worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as General Assignment Reporter. In that role, he collected interviews and captured photos in the northern region of West Virginia. Shepherd holds a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s in music from West Virginia University.
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