Judge’s ‘erroneous’ limits on testimony prompt Trump to seek new Carroll defamation trial, claiming he was ‘completely muzzled.’

Left: Former President Donald Trump exits the courtroom in New York Supreme Court on Dec. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez, File) Right: E. Jean Carroll celebrates her victory in the defamation of character trial against former President Donald Trump on Jan. 26, 2024. (John Lamparski/NurPhoto via AP)

Donald Trump has filed a motion for a new trial in New York, as he continues to fight against paying $83.3 million for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll. In his motion, Trump argues that the presiding judge “erroneously” restricted his testimony regarding his own state of mind and effectively silenced him during the trial.

Former President to Provide 44-Page Memorandum Following Judge’s Ruling

As part of the post-trial motions promised by his legal team, the former president is set to submit a 44-page memorandum. This comes after U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in favor of Carroll in the recent judgment.

Attorneys Alina Habba and John Sauer argue that a new trial is necessary due to the court’s erroneous decision to prevent Trump from testifying about whether his statements regarding Carroll were made with the intention of harming her. They claim that this decision wrongly dismissed the possibility of “common law malice” and its impact on the case.

According to Habba and Sauer, President Trump’s defensive statements in response to a public accusation of uncorroborated alleged wrongdoing can be understood in the context of a high-profile public figure facing decades-old claims. They argue that any public figure in such a situation would have strong motivations to deny the allegations for various reasons, not necessarily with the intention to harm the plaintiff.

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The second trial in New York, which concluded in January, revolved around the defamation case involving Carroll and Trump. Prior to this, in 2019, the former president was found liable for defaming her by publicly denying the sexual assault allegations. The purpose of the second trial was to determine the amount of damages that Trump owed Carroll, if any.

As previously reported by Law&Crime, Trump’s behavior in court was disruptive. He made loud utterances and hurled schoolyard retorts at the judge. In fact, the judge had to warn Trump that if he continued muttering loudly while Carroll was testifying, he would be thrown out of the courtroom.

“I would absolutely love it,” exclaimed Trump on January 17th. “I would absolutely love it.”

Despite not being obligated to attend, President Trump chose to do so. Similarly, although he was not required to testify, he voluntarily took the stand for a brief period of approximately five minutes. It is worth noting that there were certain limitations placed on his testimony from the outset of the case.

Judge Kaplan issued a ruling that prevented Trump from discussing certain aspects of Carroll’s personal life, such as her past relationships and sexual experiences. Furthermore, Trump was prohibited from arguing that he did not sexually abuse or rape Carroll, as this had already been legally established. The judge also made it clear that Trump could not claim he did not act with actual malice when making his comments about Carroll.

In his memorandum on Tuesday, Habba tried to navigate the possibility of a new trial by referring to a conversation that occurred just before Trump was about to testify.

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During the conversation, Habba asked Trump if he had any regrets about his presidency. In response, Trump firmly stated, “No, I just wanted to defend myself, my family, and frankly, the presidency.”

According to court records, an objection was raised when Trump made a statement, prompting Kaplan to instruct the jury to disregard anything he said beyond the word “no.”

According to Habba and Sauer, the court’s refusal to allow President Trump to testify about his own mental state in making the statements and the exclusion of his testimony regarding whether he made the statements with any malice or ill will directly at the plaintiff was an error and prejudicial. They argue that for common-law malice, the focus should be on the defendant’s mental state in relation to the plaintiff.

According to their argument, any statement made by Trump would have been considered as the most relevant and probative evidence.

The lawyers argued that if the court were to mistakenly prevent him from testifying on this matter, it would ultimately lead to an unfounded punitive damages award by the jury.

The decision to exclude evidence against Trump was unfair and went against the Second Circuit precedent, which allows defendants to present a “comprehensive picture.”

According to his lawyers, Trump was completely silenced.

Habba and Sauer argue that the concerns about Trump potentially exposing the jury to “inadmissible evidence” were unnecessary. They also point out that the judge allowed the admission of the “Access Hollywood” tape on January 9th, as it offered a unique insight into Trump’s thoughts and words.

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The memorandum highlights the inconsistency between the testimony being cut off and the tape being admitted in full, stating that these two actions cannot be reconciled.

Trump is expected to start paying Carroll as early as next week. Trump’s attorneys and Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, have been in a dispute over Trump’s request to delay payment without providing any security. However, Carroll’s lawyer has consistently rejected Trump’s attempts and has requested that the court do the same.

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