Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Year : 1, Issue : 19
Jury selection began in a New York courtroom Tuesday after a judge denied Donald Trump’s request that a defamation trial stemming from a columnist’s claims that he sexually abused her in the 1990s be suspended on Thursday so he could attend the funeral of his mother-in-law.
The denial came during a combative exchange between lawyers for Trump and Judge Lewis A. Kaplan over evidence in the case, Trump’s desire to attend the Thursday funeral and whether the trial should occur at all.
This is the penalty phase of a civil defamation trial stemming from columnist E. Jean Carroll’s claims he sexually attacked her in a department store dressing room. A May trial found Trump sexually abused Carroll, awarding her $5 million. Trump did not attend that trial but he showed up Tuesday morning after his political victory at the Iowa caucus hours earlier.
After several dozen prospective jurors were sworn in, Trump shook his head as Kaplan described the case in general terms and explained that for purposes of the trial, it had already been determined that Trump “did sexually assault Ms. Carroll.”
Trump is appealing and hasn’t paid any of that award, though he placed $5.55 million in escrow to cover the verdict and other costs in the event he loses his appeal.
Determining that dollar amount will be the new jury’s only job.
Even before jurors were brought in to the courtroom Tuesday, Trump attorney Michael Madaio complained that the judge had made “inconsistent and unfair” rulings against Trump prior to the start of the trial.
Madaio said the rulings “drastically changed our ability to defend this case and largely stripped us of our defenses.”
He also argued that given Trump’s pending appeal of the first verdict, the trial should not proceed at all.