The judge in Trump's second E. Jean Carroll defamation trial has repeatedly bench-slapped his lawyer.
Alina Habba made several simple lawyering mistakes, disrupting the proceedings.
The judge actually showed restraint handling Habba, one former judge said.
Former President Donald Trump's lawyer Alina Habba has been causing quite a ruckus in his second defamation trial against E. Jean Carroll — making so many simple mistakes in the courtroom that the presiding judge bench-slapped her 14 times in one day of testimony last week.
And the judge actually showed restraint in his repeated scolding of Habba, a former federal judge told Business Insider.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan of New York grew increasingly frustrated on Wednesday with Habba's conduct in court, reprimanding her for everything from not following the proper procedures for introducing evidence to disregarding his previous rulings.
At one point, Kaplan told her, "I make the rulings here, not the lawyers," before telling her to sit down.
Yet despite Kaplan's warnings, Habba continued to flout his authority, repeatedly making the same mistakes and pursuing lines of questioning he had already overruled.
In addition to his lawyer, Trump had been disruptive in court, loudly disparaging Carroll during her testimony.
"I think Kaplan is being really measured under the circumstances in his reactions to both Trump and Habba," John Jones, a former federal judge for over 20 years, told BI.
"He was really careful about not overreacting, and I don't think he overreacted to Habba, either," Jones said of Kaplan's repeated admonishing. "I think he's trying to send her signals, which is what a good judge does about how to try her case and what to do, and she's just blowing past those signals."
Jones said that by being disruptive in the court, Habba was doing exactly what Trump wanted: sowing chaos.
"It's an unprofessional and bad look," Jones, who served in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, said. "But I think Habba doesn't care about any of that. What she cares about is making Trump happy."
But by catering to Trump's wishes instead of respecting the judge's, Habba is "playing with fire," Jones, who is now the president of Dickinson College, said.
He added that Habba's conduct was likely to turn the jury against her.
"The inescapable conclusion the jury members get is that she's run afoul the judge and that she's doing something wrong," Jones said.
"So Habba, not only does she not really have a strategy and a clear defense, rather than to just be disruptive in court, but she's got an impossible situation with her client," Jones added. "So I mean, this is a horror show from a defensive standpoint."
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