Trump’s Request for New Trial Denied in E. Jean Carroll Case

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
April 25, 2024US News
Trump’s Request for New Trial Denied in E. Jean Carroll Case
(Left) Former President Donald Trump speaks during the Alabama Republican Party’s 2023 Summer meeting at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel in Montgomery, Ala., on Aug. 4, 2023. (Julie Bennett/Getty Images); (Right) E. Jean Carroll leaves following her trial at Manhattan Federal Court in New York on May 8, 2023. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

A judge has denied former President Donald Trump’s request for a new trial or change of verdict in the E. Jean Carroll case, rejecting the former president’s contention that the outcome was tainted by “extreme” restrictions on his courtroom testimony and erroneous instructions to the jury.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said in a memorandum and opinion issued on April 25 that President Trump’s motion was “without merit” for the various reasons outlined in Ms. Carroll’s motion of opposition, including that the court properly instructed the jury and did not abuse its discretion in limiting the former president’s testimony.

“Accordingly, Mr. Trump’s motions for a new trial and for a judgment as a matter of law (Dkt 309 & 311) are DENIED,” the judge wrote.

A request for comment on the decision sent to President Trump’s counsel was not immediately returned.

Trial Outcome ‘Infected’ by Errors

In January, a jury decided that President Trump must pay Ms. Carroll over $83 million in a case that claimed he defamed Ms. Carroll when he denied allegations of sexual assault.

President Trump has maintained his innocence and has called the case a “Biden Directed Witch Hunt” that’s being used as a political weapon.

In a series of court filings on March 5, including a motion asking Judge Kaplan to grant a new trial and/or alter or amend the $83 million judgment against him, President Trump’s attorneys argued that the outcome of the trial was “infected” by the judge’s errors.

“The trial’s outcome was infected by two related errors: The exclusion of President Trump’s testimony about his own state of mind, which was highly relevant to the issue of common-law malice; and the erroneous jury instruction on the definition of common-law malice,” President Trump’s attorneys wrote in a memorandum in support of their motion.

His attorneys argued that each of these errors considered separately is serious enough to render the jury verdict tainted and justifies his request for a new trial.

They wrote in the memorandum that the trial-court proceedings didn’t comply with the definition of common-law malice in multiple ways that were prejudicial. One of these was by prohibiting President Trump from expressing the view that he believed the statements he made about Ms. Carroll were true.

President Trump’s attorneys raised other arguments in the motion in support of his request for a new trial, including that the awards of compensatory and punitive damages were excessive and should be remitted.

In another motion filed on March 5, President Trump’s attorneys argued that the court should grant judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because Ms. Carroll allegedly failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove her case as regards the legitimacy of damages.

In her motion of opposition, Ms. Carroll argued that the jury’s compensatory and punitive damages were not excessive, and that the court’s actions were sound.

Judge Kaplan sided with Ms. Carroll in his April 25 decision to reject the former president’s request.

The judge upheld the constitutionality of the $65 million punitive damages award, arguing that there was evidence the former president used the office of the presidency, which he called “the loudest ‘bully pulpit’ in America,” in order to “destroy” her credibility, “punish” her for coming forward with her allegations, and “deter other women from doing so as well.”

He also upheld the $18.3 million compensatory damages award, finding that President Trump’s critical remarks with respect to Ms. Carroll were disseminated to over 100 million people and endangered her health and safety.

It is unclear what steps President Trump’s counsel intends to take in response.

‘Wanted to Defend Myself’

In their March 5 memorandum, President Trump’s attorneys pointed to an exchange ahead of his courtroom testimony where the judge demanded to know beforehand everything the former president was going to say and went over it in detail before allowing the jury to hear the former president’s statements.

“When President Trump took the stand, the Court struck even the very limited testimony about President Trump’s state of mind that the questions allowed,” his attorneys wrote.

“Did you even instruct anyone to hurt Ms. Carroll in your statements?” Ms. Habba, as defense counsel, posed the question to President Trump while he took the witness stand.

“No,” President Trump replied. “I just wanted to defend myself, my family, and frankly, the presidency.”

However, Ms. Carroll’s attorney raised an immediate objection, which Judge Kaplan sustained, ordering the jury to disregard everything beyond “no.”

President Trump’s lawyers argued that the judge made a mistake in restricting the testimony.

Public figures in similar circumstances to President Trump have “compelling motivations” to deny allegations for reasons other than a desire to harm the plaintiff, they argued, adding that by foreclosing any such testimony, and “erroneously striking the one sentence of President Trump’s testimony on this point—the Court all but assured that the jury would make a baseless punitive-damages award.”

Jury Instruction ‘Erroneous and Prejudicial’

President Trump’s attorneys also argued that the jury was misled by “erroneous and prejudicial” instructions regarding common-law malice.

The former president’s counsel submitted proposed instructions that punitive damage instructions to the jury should make clear that to meet the legal standard for common-law malice, the intent to injure must be the “sole motivation.”

However, the court overruled this proposal. Instead, Judge Kaplan told jurors they can find that a statement is made with intent to harm the defendant not only if “it is made with a deliberate intent to injure or made out of hatred, ill will or spite,” but also if it is “made with willful, wanton, or reckless disregard of another’s rights.”

The former president’s attorneys argued that the judge’s instructions disregarded New York’s “well-established ‘sole motivation’ requirement for common-law malice” and, as such, were incorrect.

“This instruction was erroneous, and the error was prejudicial,” they argued.

President Trump’s attorneys asked that the $83.3 million in damages awarded to Ms. Carroll be sharply reduced.

This legal saga stems from a defamation lawsuit Ms. Carroll filed over allegedly defamatory comments President Trump made about her in 2019 when she first publicly accused him of sexual assault.

After President Trump denied Ms. Carroll’s allegations in 2019, Ms. Carroll filed a lawsuit accusing the former president of having defamed her.

President Trump has denied all of Ms. Carroll’s allegations.

From The Epoch Times

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