Jury selection begins during the defamation trial against Trump in New York

(Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Associated Press)

Jury selection begins during the defamation trial against Trump in New York


January 16, 2024

Jury selection began Tuesday in a New York courtroom after a judge declined

former president

Trump’s request Thursday to suspend a defamation lawsuit over a columnist’s claims that he sexually assaulted her in the 1990s so he can attend his mother-in-law’s funeral.

The denial came during a combative exchange between Trump’s lawyers and Judge Lewis A. Kaplan over evidence in the case, Trump’s desire to attend Thursday’s funeral and whether the trial should take place at all.

This is the penalty phase of a civil defamation case arising from columnist E. Jean Carroll’s claims that he sexually assaulted her in a department store dressing room. A May lawsuit revealed that Trump sexually assaulted Carroll and awarded her $5 million. Trump was not present at that trial, but appeared at the Iowa caucus hours earlier on Tuesday morning after his political victory.

After several dozen potential jurors were sworn in, Trump shook his head as Kaplan described the case in general terms, explaining that for the purposes of the trial, it had already been determined that Trump had sexually assaulted Ms. Carroll.

Trump also turned around

his body

around in his chair to look at a prospective juror who said she had worked in a communications role for his daughter’s company in 2017 and 2018. Another possible juror said he is an attorney who has worked on unrelated matters with the firm representing Carroll. Both said they could be fair and impartial and remained among the prospective jurors.

In May, another jury awarded Carroll $5 million after concluding that Trump sexually assaulted her in a department store dressing room in the spring of 1996, then discredited her in 2022 by claiming she had made it up after she publicly revealed it in a 2019 memoir. The jury ruled that Carroll had not proven that Trump raped her.

Trump is appealing and has paid none of that award, although he has put $5.55 million in escrow to cover the judgment and other costs in case he loses his appeal.

One issue not decided during the first trial was how much Trump was owed for comments he made about Carroll while he was still president.

Determining that dollar amount will be the sole task of the new jury.

Kaplan ruled last year that the new jury did not have to decide again whether Carroll was sexually assaulted or whether Trump’s comments about her were defamatory, as those topics were addressed in the first trial.

Even before the jurors were brought into the courtroom on Tuesday, Trump attorney Michael Madaio complained that the judge had made inconsistent and unfair rulings against Trump before the start of the trial.

Madaio said the rulings dramatically changed our ability to defend this case and largely stripped us of our defense.

He also argued that given Trump’s pending appeal of the first verdict, the trial should not proceed at all.

Another Trump lawyer, Alina Habba, then requested a postponement of the trial on Thursday due to the funeral of former First Lady Melania Trump’s mother, Amalija Knavs.

“I’m not stopping him from being there,” the judge said, referring to the funeral.

Habba replied: No, you are preventing him from being here.

However, the judge said the only adjustment he would make is to allow Trump to testify on Monday, even if the trial otherwise concludes on Thursday. A few days ago, Kaplan rejected Trump’s request to postpone the trial for a week.

Trump arrived in a motorcade for the trial shortly before 9 a.m., entering the building through a special entrance not normally used by the public. Opening arguments could take place by noon in what is essentially a second penalty phase of a legal battle that Carroll has already won.

Trump arrived separately but at the same time as Carroll on Tuesday. His plans for the rest of the week have become unclear due to his mother-in-law’s upcoming funeral. Prospective jurors were told the trial would likely last three to five days.

Habba told the judge that Trump plans to testify. The judge has already set strict limits on what he can talk about. He did not attend last year’s trial and recently said his lawyer advised against it.

Because the trial should focus solely on how much Trump owes Carroll, the judge warned Trump and his lawyers that they cannot say to jurors things he said during the campaign or elsewhere, such as claiming she lied about him to to advertise her memoirs.

Kaplan also barred them from saying anything about Carroll’s past romantic relationships, sexual orientation and previous sexual experiences,” by suggesting that Trump did not sexually assault Carroll or by implying that she was motivated by “a political agenda, financial interests , mental illness, or other.

They are also prohibited, the judge said, from advancing any argument contrary to the court’s finding that Mr. Trump, with actual malice, lied about sexually assaulting Ms. Carroll.

These restrictions do not apply outside the presence of the jury. That has given Trump the freedom to continue posting on social media about all of the above topics, something he has done repeatedly in recent days, although each new denial carries the possibility of an increase in damages he must pay.

Carroll, 80, plans to testify about the damage to her career and reputation that resulted from Trump’s public statements. She is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and millions more in additional damages.

Trump, 77, is appealing last year’s jury findings and continues to maintain that he does not know Carroll, that he never met her at the Bergdorf Goodman store in midtown Manhattan in the spring of 1996 and that Carroll has made up her claims to sell. her book and for political reasons.

Regardless of his losses in court, Trump leads all Republicans in the 2024 presidential election and plans to spend significant time in court fighting the civil cases and four criminal cases against him, saying, “In a sense, I think that you consider it part of the business. campaign.

Jake Offenhartz of the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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