Judge Threatens Trump Lawyer With Jail, Trump Storms Out

More drama in a Manhattan courtroom in defamation damages trial for E. Jean Carroll
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2024 10:55 AM CST
Judge Threatens Trump Lawyer With Jail, Trump Storms Out
In this courtroom sketch from Thursday, former President Donald Trump, right testifies in federal court as Judge Lewis Kaplan listens, in New York.   (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

A Manhattan federal courtroom got testy Friday during the damages portion of writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation trial against former President Trump. Trump was there for closing arguments—as he'd been on Thursday, when he briefly testified—and the AP notes that he seemed "agitated all morning, vigorously shaking his head" (an apparently common reaction of his) as Carroll's lead attorney, Roberta Kaplan, wrapped up her side of the case. Kaplan insisted the jury should award her client at least $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages for the hit Carroll's reputation took after Trump called her a liar regarding the 1990s sexual abuse he's been found liable for.

Kaplan also noted to the court, "Donald Trump has tried to normalize conduct that is abnormal." Shortly after that, Trump abruptly stood up from the defense team's table and made for the door, "pausing to scan the packed courtroom as members of the Secret Service leaped up to follow him out," per the AP. "The record will reflect that Mr. Trump just rose and walked out of the courtroom," announced Judge Lewis Kaplan (no relation to Carroll's lawyer). The New York Times notes that Roberta Kaplan ignored Trump's atypical "breach of courtroom decorum" and continued with her closing arguments "as if nothing unusual had happened."

Trump's exit came shortly after Judge Kaplan dressed down Trump's attorney, Alina Habba, when the latter wouldn't stop talking when told. "You are on the verge of spending some time in the lockup. Now sit down," Kaplan ordered. Habba "immediately complied," per the AP. But CNBC reports that Trump's day in court wasn't done, as he returned to the courtroom about an hour later after Carroll's lawyer finished her closing arguments and just before Habba began hers. In May, a jury in a separate trial awarded Carroll $5 million, finding Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation. The nonprofit Inner City Press is transcribing Friday's trial; follow along for the latest here. (More Donald Trump stories.)

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