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A federal judge denies Trump's request for new trial in E. Jean Carroll legal saga

E. Jean Carroll walks out of federal court in Manhattan, May 9, 2023, in New York. A federal judge has denied former President Donald Trump's request for a new trial in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case.
John Minchillo
E. Jean Carroll walks out of federal court in Manhattan, May 9, 2023, in New York. A federal judge has denied former President Donald Trump's request for a new trial in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case.

A federal judge has rejected former President Donald Trump's motion for a new trial in the civil case brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll.

A jury had previously found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll and defaming her, and awarded her $5 million in damages.

Senior district Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote in an order issued Wednesday that the jury in the case did not reach "a seriously erroneous result" and its verdict is not "a miscarriage of justice," as Trump had alleged.

"Now that the court has denied Trump's motion for a new trial or to decrease the amount of the verdict, E Jean Carroll looks forward to receiving the $5 million in damages that the jury awarded her," Robbie Kaplan, Carroll's attorney said in a statement.

Attorneys for Trump didn't immediately comment on the decision.

The ruling came a weekafter the U.S. Justice Department declined to shieldTrump from Carroll's other defamation claim, reversing course on one of its most controversial decisions during the early stretch of the Biden administration.

Carroll filed this first defamation lawsuit three years ago. At that time, then-Attorney General Bill Barr sided with Trump and said the former president had been acting within the bounds of his office as president. But Judge Kaplan had rejected that position — only to watch as the new Biden attorney general, Merrick Garland, also extended a legal shield to Trump.

The change in course added yet another legal burden for Trump, who is fighting criminal charges over accounting for alleged hush money payments in Manhattan, separate federal charges for alleged obstruction and willful retention of highly classified documents at his Florida resort, and a grand jury investigation in Georgia over his attempts to overturn the results of that 2020 presidential election in that state.

Separately, on Tuesday, Trump said that he had received word from the Justice Department that he's a target of the grand jury probe into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. An indictment could be imminent.

Rewind to the start of the Carroll legal case

In 2019, Carroll first publicly came forward saying Trump had raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s when the future president was just a businessman.

She made the allegations with the publication of her memoir What Do We Need Men For: A Modest Proposal.

Trump responded, denying the accusation and saying that the writer had ulterior motives.

Carroll sued Trump — twice (in 2019 and later in 2022) — for his public rebuke of her accusation.

The columnist filed the second lawsuit against Trump (this time for both defamation and rape) after the state of New York lifted the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual assault to file civil claims.

In May, jurors sided with her in this case. The jury didn't find Trump raped Carroll, however. The jury awarded her $5 million in total damages agreeing that he "sexually abused" her and that he defamed her when he denied her story.

But this case, much like Trump's criminal cases, is far from over.

Her first lawsuit filed in 2019, referred to as Carroll I in the court, was filed for Trump's alleged defamatory statements. Following her victory in May, Carroll and her lawyers asked a court to expand the scope of the Carroll I case against Trump, seeking at least an additional $10 million in damages.

Kaplan also said in her statement to NPR that Carroll "also looks forward to continuing to hold Trump accountable for what he did to her at the trial in Carroll I, which is scheduled to begin on January 15, 2024."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.

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