Trump Defamation Trial to Have Anonymous Jury
In the impending defamation trial of rape accuser E Jean Carroll, a US judge ruled on Thursday that Donald Trump will have an anonymous jury because of the possibility of juror intimidation, especially from supporters of the former US president.
Mentioning that “this is a unique case,” U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said the names, addresses, and workplaces of prospective jurors for the former Elle magazine columnist's April 25 trial against the former president will be kept under wraps.
Additionally, he stated that the jury members would be driven to and from the courthouse together and would be cared after by U.S. marshals during trial breaks.
According to Kaplan, the necessity for juror anonymity reflected “unprecedented circumstances in which this trial will take place, including the extensive pretrial publicity and a very strong risk that jurors will fear harassment, unwanted invasions of their privacy, and retaliation.”
Requests for comment from Trump's attorneys did not immediately receive a response. Carroll's legal representatives declined to respond through a spokeswoman.
Trump and Carroll were questioned by Kaplan earlier this month about their opinions on an anonymous jury. Both didn't.
Carroll has filed two defamation lawsuits against Trump for his denials of her claims that he sexually assaulted her in a Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store changing room in late 1995 or early 1996.
An October 2022 post by Trump on his Truth Social social media network served as the basis for the April 25 trial.
Trump insisted that Carroll made up the rape allegation to promote her upcoming biography and that it was a “total fraud,” “hoax,” “lie,” and “con job.” He also claimed that he did not know Carroll.
Carroll's lawsuit also makes a battery claim in accordance with the Adult Survivors Act of New York, which permits sexual abuse victims to pursue legal action against their alleged assailants even after the statute of limitations has passed.
Something Worse than Harassment?
In his decision, Kaplan cited Trump's March 18 call for protest if he were indicted in a Manhattan's district attorney case for covering up a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
As per Kaplan, Trump's reaction “has been perceived by some as an incitement to violence,” and said some people charged over the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol “rightly or wrongly” attributed their actions Trump’s incitement.
Trump has “repeatedly” assaulted courts, judges, law enforcement, and even specific jurors, according to the judge.
These, according to the judge, included the jury in Roger Stone's 2019 obstruction trial and the forepersons of the grand jury probing whether Trump attempted to impact Georgia's 2020 election outcomes.
“If jurors' identities were disclosed, there would be a strong likelihood of unwanted media attention to the jurors, influence attempts, and/or of harassment or worse of jurors by supporters of Mr. Trump,” Kaplan wrote.
Two media outlets are opposed to the jury being anonymous, but Kaplan claimed that the safety of the jury trumped their need to know the identities of the jurors.
Five months after Trump initially denied the rape occurred and claimed Carroll made it up, Carroll filed her second defamation complaint. The anticipated April 10 trial in that matter was postponed by Kaplan earlier this week.
The case is Carroll v Trump, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No 22-10016.