Judge cites Trump’s past verbal attacks using anonymous jury for rape defamation case
US President Donald Trump attends the 2019 National Prayer Breakfast on February 7, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Chris Kleponis/Pool/Getty Images
Citing former President Donald Trump’s history of verbal attacks on people in the justice system, a federal judge ruled on Thursday that a jury will be anonymous in its upcoming civil trial for allegedly defaming a writer after he accused of raping her.
“Mr. Trump has repeatedly attacked courts, judges, various law enforcement and other public officials, and even individual jurors in other cases,” the U.S. District Judge wrote. Manhattan, Lewis Kaplan, in his order.
Kaplan noted that Trump’s recent calls for public protests against his belief that he will soon be indicted in an unrelated criminal investigation in New York “have been seen by some as incitement to violence.” Trump in this investigation is wanted for a silent payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016.
“If the identities of jurors were released, there would be a high likelihood of unwanted media attention on jurors, attempts to influence and/or juror harassment or worse by supporters of Mr. Trump,” wrote Kaplan.
Kaplan said he would keep the names, addresses and workplaces of potential jurors secret for the rape libel trial, which is due to begin on April 25.
Writer E. Jean Carroll accuses Trump of slandering her after he wrote a 2019 magazine article that said he raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store after a chance encounter there amid the 1990s.
His lawsuit also seeks aggravated assault for the alleged assault under a new New York law that temporarily lifts the statute of limitations for old rape and assault claims.
Trump denies the allegation, which was made when he was president. He claimed Carroll lied about it because she was motivated by political animosity and a desire to sell copies of a book detailing the alleged attack.
Neither Trump nor Carroll had objected to Kaplan’s suggestion two weeks ago that the case be tried by an anonymous jury.
But the Associated Press news service and The Daily News in New York argued against the idea in a court filing, which cited the alleged right of public access to information about jury members.
In his decision on Thursday, Kaplan noted that Trump recently made critical statements about the foreman of an Atlanta, Georgia grand jury who heard evidence of his efforts to reverse his 2020 election defeat in this State, and several years ago about the forewoman of her the jury in the criminal trial of ally Roger Stone.
Kaplan also wrote that some of the 1,000 people arrested for the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot “argued that their actions were attributable to ‘what was perceived’ as incitement by Mr. Trump.”
The ruling noted that the upcoming trial in Carroll’s lawsuit is likely to attract even more media attention than the amount the case has already received, and that Kaplan was obligated to consider “the likely effect on the jurors”.
“And [the judge] cannot properly ignore the significant risk that jurors selected to sit in this case will be affected by fear that they will be the target of unwanted media attention, outside pressure, retaliation and harassment from people unhappy with any verdict that may be rendered,” Kaplan wrote. .
Kaplan said the public’s right of access to jury information is not unqualified.
He ordered that jurors selected for the trial be kept together during recess and lunch, and taken to undisclosed locations which they will then leave to return home each day.