OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
The judge presiding over the second defamation trial of former President Donald Trump against E. Jean Carroll warned him that he would lose his court privileges if he continued to disparage Carroll to his attorneys throughout the trial.
“Mr. Trump has the right to be here,” Judge Lewis Kaplan said Wednesday. “And that right can be forfeited if disruptive … and if he disregards” court orders.
“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial,” Kaplan later said.
Before making these remarks, Kaplan had earlier in the day advised Trump to “keep his voice down.”
Shawn Crowley, Carroll’s attorney, claimed to the judge that she overheard Trump disparaging Carroll during her testimony.
“Mr. Trump has been loudly saying things, including that the witness is lying and noting that she has suddenly got her memory back,” Crowley told Kaplan after jurors were released from the room. “It’s loud enough that some of us here are hearing it.”
“I’m going to ask Mr. Trump to take special care to keep his voice down in conferring with his attorneys,” Kaplan said.
Despite the warning, Trump persisted in criticizing Carroll throughout the testimony, which led Crowley to inform Kaplan prior to lunch that she could still hear Trump insulting Carroll.
Kaplan subsequently made a threat to remove Trump from the meeting.
“Mr. Trump, I know you would like me to do that,” he said. “I know you would. You just can’t control yourself in this circumstance, apparently.”
On Tuesday, Kaplan reiterated his earlier warnings that the proceedings must not escalate by instructing the parties involved not to communicate with the jury “directly or indirectly.”
Last year, in a separate trial, a judge found Trump guilty of sexually abusing Carroll in the mid-1990s and of defaming her in 2022 for allegedly fabricating stories about the assault.
The court awarded her $5 million in damages.
In September, using that first verdict as a basis, Kaplan found Trump liable in a second case for defamation against Carroll in 2019, when he made similar accusations about her lying. The question of whether Trump must pay the former magazine columnist extra damages is at the heart of Wednesday’s trial.
During Tuesday’s opening statements, Carroll’s lawyer asked the jury to punish Trump more for the damage his remarks caused her.
Even though Crowley didn’t give a specific amount, she did request that it be high enough to “make him stop.”
How much money will it take to make him stop?” she said. “Because he hasn’t stopped.”
Last week, the judge imposed several limits on what Trump and his legal team can say during an upcoming trial for defaming Carroll.
According to The New Republic, the trial for comments he made while president in 2019 in which he claimed that Carroll accused him of raping her so she could promote her memoir starts next week, on Tuesday. The presiding judge, Lewis Kaplan, has already determined that Trump is liable for defamation, meaning the trial is mostly to set damages.
“Kaplan issued an order Tuesday barring Trump and his lawyers from discussing Carroll’s choice of lawyer or who might be paying her legal fees. They are prohibited from making comments ‘concerning Ms. Carroll’s past romantic relationships, sexual disposition, and prior sexual experiences,’ and they cannot argue that Trump did not sexually abuse Carroll or act with actual malice when making his comments about her” the outlet reported.
Here’s the list of what he can’t offer as evidence, argument, or comments in the jury’s presence. And while it’s not everything Carroll’s side wanted, it might finally convince Trump that his testifying would be a bad idea. 3/ pic.twitter.com/XLayfVCVdA
— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) January 9, 2024
Carroll’s lawsuits, according to the former president’s attorneys, are politically motivated and supported by a left-leaning billionaire. They have also claimed that Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan — who is no relation to the judge — is biased because she has also represented several prominent Democrats.
The New Republic added:
Judge Kaplan had already ruled over the weekend that Trump can’t argue he didn’t rape Carroll. Although Trump was found liable for sexual abuse, Kaplan has repeatedly stated that Trump “‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’”
Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, ruled that Trump defamed Carroll by denying in June 2019 that he had sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at a Bergdorf Goodman department store in the 1990s and by accusing her of lying about the incident in order to promote her book. Trump was ordered to pay Carroll $5 million for the sexual assault by a jury in a civil case in May.
“Kaplan also rejected Trump’s claim that any damages awarded to Carroll, who is seeking $10 million, should be reduced because the earlier verdict covered some of them and she did not deserve to recover twice,” reported Reuters of the ruling.
Judge Kaplan wrote that the “jury found that Mr. Trump knew that his statement that Ms. Carroll lied about him sexually assaulting her for improper and ulterior purposes was false or that he acted with reckless disregard to whether it was false. Whether Mr. Trump made the 2019 statements with actual malice raises the same issue.”