Federal judge upholds verdict in E. Jean Carroll case and denies Trump’s motion for a new trial

A federal judge on Thursday upheld the verdict and award in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against former President Donald Trump and denied Trump’s motion for a new trial.

Judge Lewis Kaplan, in a written opinion, said Trump’s legal arguments are without merit. The judge also found that the punitive damages the jury awarded to Carroll “passes constitutional muster.”

Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan said in a statement that her legal team is “pleased with though not surprised by the Court’s decision.”

“As the Court explained, it was entirely reasonable for the jury to award E. Jean Carroll $83 million in damages given Donald Trump’s continued defamation of Ms. Carroll during the trial itself, as well as his conduct in the courtroom where his ‘hatred and disdain (were) on full display,’” Kaplan said.

Carroll, a former magazine columnist, alleged Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s and then defamed her when he denied her claim. In a separate case, a jury last year found Trump liable for the sexual assault.

The second case stems from remarks Trump had made denying Carroll’s allegations in 2019. He was found liable for defamation last year, and a jury earlier this year ordered him to pay $83.3 million in punitive and compensatory damages.

Trump’s legal team had argued that the damages awarded to Carroll in the defamation case were excessive. Kaplan dismissed that argument in his opinion released Thursday.

“Mr. Trump’s malicious and unceasing attacks on Ms. Carroll were disseminated to more than 100 million people,” Kaplan wrote. “They included public threats and personal attacks, and they endangered Ms. Carroll’s health and safety.”

“The jury,” Kaplan added, “was entitled to conclude that Mr. Trump derailed the career, reputation, and emotional well-being of one of America’s most successful and prominent advice columnists and authors.”

Trump has maintained that he did not sexually assault Carroll, and in 2019, said that Carroll was not his “type.” Those denials formed the basis of the defamation lawsuit.

He sat in court for portions of the defamation trial, earning rebukes from the judge after he was heard making comments during Carroll’s testimony. As Carroll’s lawyers delivered their closing arguments, Trump abruptly and dramatically stood up and left the courtroom.

Kaplan referenced that episode in his opinion: “Mere minutes after (Carroll’s) counsel began her closing argument, Mr. Trump conspicuously stood and walked out of the courtroom for no apparent reason save to evidence his disapproval.”

Aside from the eye-popping monetary amount, the judgment brought another point into stark clarity: A jury of regular citizens – not the politicians or their appointees that Trump constantly claims mistreat him – held him accountable.

The judgment comes as Trump sits in another courtroom – this time, a criminal one – awaiting another jury of regular New Yorkers to decide his fate on charges that he falsified business records to cover up an affair ahead of the 2016 election.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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