Roberta Kaplan on Tuesday said allegations raised by Donald Trump’s attorney of a “mentor-mentee relationship” with the judge presiding over her client E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuits against Trump are “false” and “utterly baseless.”
The comments came in a letter responding to Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba, who on Monday accused the judge of overtly hostile behavior against Trump and his lawyers and asked for more information about the professional relationship between Judge Lewis Kaplan and Roberta Kaplan, citing a New York Post report.
Judge Kaplan and Roberta Kaplan (the two are not related) overlapped for about two years in the early 1990s at the Paul, Weiss firm when he was a senior partner and she was a junior associate. Judge Kaplan left the high-profile firm in 1994 when he was nominated to the Southern District of New York where he’s been a sitting federal judge since.
“More specifically, I have no recollection from that time period of ever interacting with Your Honor on a case, participating with Your Honor in a client or case-related meeting, or attending a court proceeding with Your Honor. In fact, I remember no direct interaction from that time period with Your Honor at all,” Roberta Kaplan wrote in her letter Tuesday addressing the judge.
Their interactions have been limited to E Jean Carroll’s litigation against Trump and one other case he presided over, according to Roberta Kaplan.
“Needless to say, at no point have we ever had a ‘mentor’ type relationship,” as alleged by Ms. Habba.”
Judge Kaplan oversaw the civil trial that ended Friday with a jury awarding Carroll $83.3 million in damages from Trump for his defamatory statements disparaging her and denying her rape allegations.
Trump’s lawyers were already planning to mention the judge’s “overtly hostile” demeanor toward the former president and his legal team, Habba said in her letter Monday.
“We believe, and will argue on appeal, that the Court was overtly hostile towards defense counsel and President Trump, and displayed preferential treatment towards Plaintiff’s counsel. Indeed, the rulings, tone, and demeanor of the bench raised significant concerns even before the New York Post’s investigative journalism unearthed these new facts,” Habba wrote.
Her letter asked the judge to “provide defense counsel with all of the relevant facts” or to make “a specific factual denial… that you had a mentor-mentee relationship with Ms. Kaplan.”
Habba on Tuesday afternoon indicated the issue is resolved for now.
“The point of my January 29 letter was to verify whether the information contained in the New York Post article is accurate,” Habba wrote to the judge. “Since Ms. Kaplan has now denied that there was ever a mentor-mentee relationship between herself and Your Honor, this issue has seemingly been resolved.”
The District Executive for the Southern District of New York said, “the court does not comment on matters before the court.”
Roberta Kaplan questioned the timing of Habba’s letter filed days after the verdict, noting that the work history information is public record.
“From the very start of the recently concluded trial, Donald Trump and Ms. Habba have pushed a false narrative of judicial bias so that they could characterize any jury verdict against Trump as the product of a corrupt system,” Roberta Kaplan wrote.
“While that strategy has now moved into its post-verdict phase, it is now time for Defendant’s false and vexatious claims of bias or impropriety to stop,” she added.
Carroll’s lawyer also said she wanted to respond to the allegations quickly but reserves her right to seek sanctions against Trump’s attorneys.
CNN has reached out to the New York Post for comment.
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