Jury Reaches Verdict In E. Jean Carroll’s Defamation Damages Case Against Trump

Jurors reached a verdict Friday after around three hours of deliberation in writer E. Jean Carroll’s trial against former President Donald Trump, from whom she sought millions of dollars in damages for defamation.

The verdict is expected to be read Friday afternoon.

Trump’s presence in the courtroom over the course of the trial led to dramatic scenes — including earlier on Friday when the former president stormed out during Carroll’s attorney’s closing arguments.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan interrupted the proceedings to note for the court record that Trump had abruptly walked out. He had also arrived late.

Kaplan and Trump’s attorneys, particularly Alina Habba, clashed throughout the trial, up until the jurors left to begin their deliberations. The judge was moved to threaten Habba with “time in lockup” during a tense procedural exchange before the jury came in, and reportedly reiterated that threat during closing arguments as jurors looked on.

Carroll, a longtime advice columnist, maintains that Trump raped her in a dressing room at Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman department store in 1996. She wrote about her experience in a book that was excerpted in New York Magazine in 2019, prompting Trump to launch his campaign of denial.

His personal attacks — Trump has called Carroll a “whack job” and a “fraud” — inspired her to sue for defamation.

A previous trial concluded that Trump was liable for defaming and sexually abusing Carroll, although jurors did not find that he raped her under the letter of the law. The May 2023 proceedings centered on Carroll’s accusation and critical statements made by Trump in 2022; he was told to pay her $5 million in damages.

Trump did not attend the previous trial on advice from his lawyers, he said.

Kaplan instructed jurors in the current trial to accept the earlier verdict, repeating that instruction multiple times on Friday when Habba echoed Trump’s denial, per CNN. The judge reportedly told the jurors their only job was to decide how much Trump owed Carroll, and to ignore the assertion from Trump’s team that Carroll somehow benefited from the attention.

Roberta Kaplan, an attorney for Carroll who is not related to the judge, told jurors they had “the opportunity, maybe even the responsibility to put an end to this,” according to The New York Times.

She argued that Trump would likely not stop unless he was made to part with a large sum of money — and she reportedly emphasized how wealthy Trump said he was.

In her closing arguments, Habba cast heavy doubt on the link between Trump’s statements and the damage Carroll claims to have suffered, which included physical threats to her safety and a steep drop-off in letters asking for advice.

In this courtroom sketch, E. Jean Carroll, right, is questioned by her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, center, in New York federal court while Donald Trump sits to the left side with his legal team on Jan. 17.
In this courtroom sketch, E. Jean Carroll, right, is questioned by her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, center, in New York federal court while Donald Trump sits to the left side with his legal team on Jan. 17.

Elizabeth Williams via Associated Press

“President Trump has no more control over the thoughts and feelings of social media users than he does the weather,” Habba said, per The New York Times.

Over the course of the trial, jurors watched Habba clash repeatedly with Judge Kaplan, often in ways that left Habba appearing inexperienced.

Her client also sparked the ire of the judge, although largely out of sight of the jury. One of the most heated exchanges came when Kaplan threatened to boot Trump from the courtroom last week if he continued making comments during Carroll’s testimony that were potentially loud enough to be heard by the jurors.

Kaplan reportedly said Trump appeared unable to control himself. He retorted, “You can’t either.”

Both Carroll and Trump provided testimony, although Trump was on the stand for less than five minutes due to concerns that he would use the proceedings to harp on about unrelated topics.

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