Court Battles

Judge denies Trump’s effort to countersue E. Jean Carroll

A federal judge on Friday denied former President Trump’s effort to countersue E. Jean Carroll, the writer who accused him of raping her in the ’90s and filed a defamation lawsuit after he unleashed personal attacks on her while in office.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected Trump’s retaliatory effort in a scathing 23-page decision in which he criticized the former president’s “bad-faith” litigation tactics aimed at delaying the case.

“Taken together, these actions demonstrate that defendant’s litigation tactics have had a dilatory effect and, indeed, strongly suggest that he is acting out of a strong desire to delay any opportunity plaintiff may have to present her case against him,” wrote Kaplan, who was appointed by former President Clinton.

Alina Habba, an attorney representing Trump, said they would continue to fight Carroll’s lawsuit.

“While we are disappointed with the Court’s decision today, we eagerly look forward to litigating this action and proving at trial that the plaintiff’s claims have absolutely no basis in law or in fact,” Habba said in an emailed statement.

Trump moved to file a countersuit in January, accusing Carroll of leveling false accusations and filing a meritless lawsuit “for the sole purpose of harassing, intimidating, punishing or otherwise maliciously inhibiting” Trump’s First Amendment rights. The motion also asked Kaplan to reward attorney fees and damages to Trump.

While Trump was still in office, he moved to have the Justice Department intervene on his behalf and represent him in the case. If successful, that effort would doom Carroll’s lawsuit since such defamation claims cannot be brought against government officials acting in their official capacity.

Kaplan denied the Justice Department effort, and that decision is currently on appeal.

The judge said on Friday that the move to countersue, which came more than two years after Carroll filed her defamation suit, appeared to be part of a trend of tactics to suppress or delay the case.

“Plaintiff’s only claim in this case is a single count of defamation,” Kaplan wrote. “It could have been tried and decided – one way or the other – long ago. The record convinces this Court that the defendant’s litigation tactics, whatever their intent, have delayed the case to an extent that readily could have been far less.

“Granting leave to amend without considering the futility of the proposed amendment needlessly would make a regrettable situation worse by opening new avenues for significant further delay. That would unduly prejudice plaintiff which, in my view, is a motive for defendant’s position on this motion.”

Responding to the judge’s findings on Friday, attorney Roberta Kaplan said in an emailed statement, “My client E. Jean Carroll and I could not agree more.”

—Updated at 2:37 p.m.

Tags Defamation Donald Trump Donald Trump litigation E. Jean Carroll Lawsuit
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