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Trump lawyer Alina Habba slapped down by judge in E Jean Carroll trial after tense exchanges

Former president’s lawyer told to sit down twice and reminded to stand when addressing bench

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 17 January 2024 19:16 GMT
E. Jean Carroll testifying

There were tense moments in court in New York on Wednesday morning, when Donald Trump’s lawyer attempted yet again to ask the judge in the E Jean Carroll defamation trial for a postponement.

Alina Habba has asked several times for Judge Lewis Kaplan to pause proceedings to allow the former president to travel to Florida for the funeral on Thursday of his mother-in-law, Amalija Knavs.

In asking to renew her request to postpone the trial — the second defamation case against Mr Trump brought by former Elle columnist Ms Carroll — Ms Habba earned a sharp rebuke from the judge.

“Your Honour, clearly we are not going to finish this trial tomorrow. This trial will go into next week,” Ms Habba said as day two of the trial began.

“I am asking your honour to have the kindness that my client deserves to be with his family tomorrow and not have to choose to miss the trial that he has a right to be here for.”

Alina Habba (AFP via Getty Images)

Judge Kaplan denied the request, noting that Mr Trump has the right either to appear in person or be represented by counsel.

“And nobody is stopping him from doing either. The application is denied. I will hear no further argument on it. None. Do you understand that word? None. Please sit down."

Ms Habba responded by asking the judge not to speak to her in that way.

“I don’t like to be spoken to that way. And we are going to be here for several days,” she said. “I’m not going to speak to [Ms Carroll’s lawyer] Ms Kaplan like that. I will not speak to you like that. I am asking your honour to please refrain from speaking to me in that manner.”

Judge Kaplan did not acknowledge her protest and again reiterated that her request to adjourn the case was denied and — again — told her to sit down.

As Ms Carroll’s testimony continued throughout the morning, Ms Habba peppered it with objections, at one point earning another admonishment from Judge Kaplan for not standing up when addressing the court.

The judge’s rebukes of Ms Habba were variously called a “disaster” for the defence case, with predictions of a “bigly loss” for the former president, with the Trump attorney being called a “hack” and Ron Filipkowski noting that she had “just found out this isn’t a Newsmax interview”.

There was more drama in the courtroom when Judge Kaplan threatened to remove Mr Trump from the courtroom if he did not stop audibly commenting on the testimony of Ms Carroll.

The judge acknowledged that the former president was probably eager for him to do so, to which — according to reporters in court — Mr Trump responded: “I would love it.”

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