Judge rejects Trump’s last-minute bid to delay rape and defamation trial

Mr Trump will go on trial for rape and defamation next week

Andrew Feinberg
Monday 17 April 2023 16:10 BST
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Louise Thomas

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A federal judge in New York City has rejected former president Donald Trump’s 11th-hour attempt to once again postpone his long-delayed civil defamation and rape trial on the grounds that publicity surrounding his recent indictment necessitated a “cooling-off” period to ensure an impartial jury.

Judge Lewis Kaplan on Monday ordered the trial, which stems from two civil lawsuits brought against the ex-president by writer E Jean Carroll, to commence on 25 April as previously scheduled.

In a 10-page order and opinion, Judge Kaplan said the one-month delay Mr Trump’s attorneys had asked for would have no impact on the potential jury pool in the case, which will be tried in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

“There is no reason to assume that a sufficient number of fair and impartial jurors cannot be found on April 25, 2023 or that it would be materially easier to find such jurors on May 23, 2023,” he said.

Judge Kaplan added that the jury selection process would address the matter of publicity stemming from Mr Trump’s indictment and other matters, including “inquiry into prospective jurors’ awareness, if any, of Mr. Trump’s various legal troubles – past, present and perhaps future – and jurors’ ability and willingness to render a fair and impartial verdict in this case, regardless of any prior knowledge or attitudes”.

He added that “at least some portion” of the publicity around the criminal charges against Mr Trump is of the ex-president’s “own doing” and chastised him for attempting to use coverage he precipitated to delay his own trial.

“There has been no shortage of recent news articles focused on Mr. Trump’s own public statements on his social media platform and in press conferences and interviews he has given about his indictment,” he said. “It does not sit well for Mr. Trump to promote pretrial publicity and then to claim that coverage that he promoted was prejudicial to him and should be taken into account as supporting a further delay”.

The judge also said it was “difficult” to “ignore the possibility” that the 11th-hour request from the ex-president was a dilatory tactic to delay a trial that comes more than three years after Ms Carroll sued Mr Trump for defamation after he said he could not have raped her because she was not his “type”.

“In consideration of the ages of both parties and extensive pretrial litigation that has occurred in both of Ms. Carroll's actions, it would not be in tl1e interest of justice to permit further delay absent a strong justification. Mr. Trump has not provided any such justification,” he said.

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