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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke April 29, 2024

Judge in Trump’s criminal trial didn’t threaten to arrest Trump specifically over son’s graduation

If Your Time is short

  • Judge Juan Merchan didn’t say former President Donald Trump will be arrested if he attends his son’s high school graduation. Merchan said his decision about not holding trial on the graduation date depends on how the trial proceeds. 

  • Merchan separately issued Trump a so-called Parker warning, which advises criminal defendants that they could be arrested for failing to appear in court when required.

Misinformation has followed in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial, which started April 15. 

One screenshot of an X post from that day from conservative activist Jack Posobiec continues to spread on social media. 

"Breaking: Judge Merchan says Trump will be arrested if he misses any day of the trial, even for Barron’s graduation," the post said. 

Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, reacted to the claim by posting the words "pure evil" on X. 

An April 22 Threads post sharing the screenshot was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

It’s not true that Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the trial, said Trump would be arrested for missing the trial for his youngest son Barron Trump’s high school graduation. 

What did happen: Trump asked Merchan on the first day of jury selection to not hold trial May 17 so he could attend Barron’s graduation. One of Trump’s lawyers made a similar request because his son is graduating June 3. Merchan seemed open to the idea of adjourning for one or both days. 

"It really depends on how we’re doing on time and where we are in the trial," Merchan said, according to The Associated Press.

Separately, Merchan issued Trump what’s called a "Parker warning," which advises any criminal defendant of the right to be present and the consequences of not appearing in court, which could include being sent to jail for disruptive behavior.

Business Insider reported in 2023 that the Parker warning is a "common admonition in New York state courtrooms." Merchan gave the warning to Trump in April of that year as he was arraigned, saying, "This is something I do with every individual who appears before me in the courtroom."

The warning reads partly: "If you deliberately fail to appear in court when required, then any proceeding in your case, including hearing, trial and, if you are convicted, sentence, can and will continue in your absence. A warrant for your arrest will be issued and you will be subject to separate prosecution and separate punishment for bail jumping no matter what happens in this case."

We rate claims that Merchan said Trump will be arrested if he misses the trial to attend his son’s graduation False.


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Judge in Trump’s criminal trial didn’t threaten to arrest Trump specifically over son’s graduation

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