MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Former President Donald Trump claimed the judge presiding over his case hates him, but attorneys and associates who have argued cases before him have respectful opinions of veteran New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

The 60-year-old former prosecutor was first appointed to be a judge in the Bronx family court by Mayor Bloomberg and elevated to the state court fourteen years ago. He got Trump’s case because of a rotation process in which judges are assigned to oversee grand juries.

Attorneys and associates have had high praise for him as a jurist, characterizing him as a no-nonsense judge who is smart and even-tempered.

Former prosecutor and defense attorney Imran Ansari thinks the former president should feel good about Merchan handling his case.

“Judge Merchan is a hardworking judge,” Ansari said. “He comes from humble roots. He made his way through the DA’s office as a prosecutor and he’s shown nothing by even temperament on the bench and great knowledge of the law.”

Judge Merchan oversaw the tax fraud case against Trump’s company and his longtime finance chief Allen Weisselberg who pleaded guilty in a plea deal that sentenced him to a reduced five-month jail term in exchange for testifying against the company.

After Trump’s indictment was announced last week, the former president made it clear he believes Judge Merchan hates him, claiming he was “handpicked by DA Bragg and the prosecutors and the same persons who railroaded my 75-year-old CFO Allen Weisselberg to take a plea deal.”

Ansari maintains, “Although Trump thinks Judge Merchan hates him, there’s no evidence, no prior history in the record, that Judge Merchan has any animosity toward (Donald) Trump. During the Weisselberg trial, he appeared to be a pretty fair judge.”

There’s a long road ahead in this unprecedented case, with many briefs and appeals before it finally goes to trial. When it does, the question arises whether it can really take place in such a liberal city as New York.

Ansari agrees. 

“It is a real concern whether (Donald) Trump can get a fair trial in Manhattan political base that leans heavily left. There is valid concern among the defense team to think if (Donald) Trump can get a fair trial,” Ansari said.

Even Trump’s legal team doesn’t share his harsh words for Judge Merchan. Many twists and turns in this historical case can be expected between now and the next court date in December. It’s a case that Trump attorney Joe Tacopina doesn’t believe will ever make it to a jury.