Judge rejects Trump’s mistrial motions in E Jean Carroll defamation case

Judge Lewis Kaplan, who ruled from the bench, reportedly said allowing for a mistrial ‘would have been entirely pointless’

Donald Trump’s motions for a mistrial in the defamation case brought against him by the writer E Jean Carroll have been rejected by a federal judge, who added that the former president’s issues with the verdict had no “merit”.

In an order filed on Wednesday, Judge Lewis Kaplan said the motion for a mistrial “made no sense” and that approving it “would have been entirely pointless”. Trump’s lawyers had previously called for a mistrial in the middle of their cross-examination of Carroll, which the judge denied at the time, instructing the jury to disregard the counsel’s remarks. He reiterated his decision and sharply criticized the efforts of Trump’s attorney in the written order this week.

Last month, Trump was ordered to pay Carroll an additional $83.3m after Kaplan found that he had defamed her in 2019. A jury previously had found that Trump had sexually abused her, awarding her $5m. Shortly after the judge’s decision, Trump decried it on Truth Social as “absolutely ridiculous” and said he would be filing an appeal.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba requested the mistrial after Carroll discussed deleting some death threats she had received to help with her anxiety and “get control of the situation”. Habba accused Carroll of “deleting evidence” and made the unusual mistrial request in front of the jury.

Kaplan wrote that he had denied the motion “immediately” during that hearing “partly because it was untimely”, since the defendant had been aware of the alleged deletion of messages for nearly a year before the trial. The judge also noted that a mistrial is granted because of a procedural error or serious misconduct, meaning a mistrial would not have remedied any issue with improper disposal of electronic communications “if any there was”.

If a mistrial were declared, a new trial would be called and the same issues would be in effect, meaning it would have “served no useful purpose”, Kaplan wrote, saying Habba’s subsequent written motion for a mistrial was “at least doubly frivolous” and “entirely baseless”. “Granting it now would be even less sensible … [and] a bootless exercise,” Kaplan went on.

The judge also said that making the request in front of the jury had been “needlessly prejudicial to Ms Carroll”. The judge further said he would not grant any relief to Trump because the cross-examination had been sufficient and “he would not be justified in receiving anything more than what already occurred during trial”.

Habba did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

After the damages ruling, Trump wrote: “I fully disagree with both verdicts, and will be appealing this whole Biden Directed Witch Hunt focused on me and the Republican Party. Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon. They have taken away all First Amendment Rights. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!”

Carroll previously said that the multimillion-dollar award showed “we don’t need to be afraid” of the former president, adding: “It was an astonishing discovery for me – he’s nothing.” The former Elle magazine columnist compared him to “a walrus snorting” and “a rhino flopping his hands” in an interview, adding: “He can be knocked down.”