Former President Donald Trump and writer E. Jean Carroll, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan has ruled that an anonymous jury will be empaneled for the upcoming civil trial.
The trial, scheduled for January 16, 2024, will determine the amount Trump must pay Carroll for defaming her in 2019 by denying her rape allegations.
This decision stems from concerns about potential juror intimidation, harassment, or undue influence, given the highly publicized nature of the case and Trump’s history of outspoken criticisms.
E. Jean Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, brought a lawsuit against Donald Trump in November 2019, seeking at least $10 million in damages.
Her case was in response to comments made by Trump after she publicly accused him of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s. In his denial of the allegations, Trump not only claimed not to know Carroll but also suggested that she had fabricated the accusations to promote her upcoming memoir.
This lawsuit is separate from another case where a jury, in May, ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million for sexual assault and defamation, prompting Trump to appeal the verdict.
Judge Kaplan’s Rationale
Judge Kaplan’s decision to impanel an anonymous jury was based on several factors. He noted the “strong reason” for providing special protections for jurors due to the extensive media coverage of the case and Trump’s repeated public criticisms of Carroll.
Donald Trump and Carroll’s Legal Showdown
Furthermore, Kaplan cited Trump’s conduct in a separate civil fraud lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, where the former president was fined twice for violating a gag order with comments about his clerk.
Kaplan expressed concerns that if juror identities were disclosed, there would be a “strong likelihood of unwanted media attention to the jurors, influence attempts, and harassment or worse by supporters of Mr. Trump and by Mr. Trump himself.”
To mitigate these concerns, he ordered that the names, addresses, and places of employment of prospective jurors be kept secret, and jurors will be transported together to and from the courthouse, with US marshals ensuring their security during breaks in the trial.
No objections were raised by either E. Jean Carroll or Donald Trump regarding using an anonymous jury, indicating a mutual recognition of the sensitive nature of the case and the potential risks involved.
Despite the ongoing legal battles, Donald Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden in the 2024 US election.
This is despite Trump facing four federal and state criminal indictments, to which he has pleaded not guilty.
The civil trial in Carroll v. Trump continues to be closely watched, and both sides are eagerly awaiting a decision by the federal appeals court in Manhattan on whether absolute presidential immunity shields Trump from Carroll’s first lawsuit.
In a prior ruling in September, Judge Kaplan determined that the jury’s defamation findings in May applied to Carroll’s initial case, leaving only the issue of damages for the upcoming trial.