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 January 29, 2024

Trump appealing E. Jean Carroll ruling, argues conflict of interest

Former President Donald Trump's legal team is gearing up for an appeal in response to the $83.3 million defamation lawsuit verdict awarded to E. Jean Carroll.

The decision is grounded in an alleged "insane" conflict of interest involving the presiding judge, Lewis Kaplan.

The decision

The jury's decision was released on Friday, which granted an additional $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll, the former advice columnist who accused Trump of sexual assault.

The jury, comprised of seven men and two women, delivered the verdict in a trial attended by Trump.

His momentary departure during closing arguments by Carroll's lawyer, followed by his return before the verdict, marked a dramatic courtroom scene.

Trump's response

Over the weekend, Donald Trump's legal team, led by attorney Alina Habba, declared their intent to appeal the ruling. Habba raised concerns about the undisclosed connection between Judge Lewis Kaplan and Roberta Kaplan, E. Jean Carroll's lawyer.

Despite sharing similar last names, the two Kaplans have no familial ties. Habba criticized the lack of transparency regarding this prior mentorship, describing it as "insane and so incestuous."

The conflict-of-interest allegations originated from an anonymous former partner at Weiss, Kaplan, Keckler & Fink. This individual claimed that Roberta Kaplan, a junior associate in the 1990s, had been mentored by Judge Kaplan.

The former partner asserted that Roberta Kaplan went to great lengths to stand out to managing partners.

Kaplan's background

Roberta Kaplan's professional journey included working with Judge Kaplan at Paul, Weiss Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison in Manhattan before co-founding Kaplan, Keckler & Fink in 2016.

She began her tenure at the firm in 1992, overlapping with Judge Kaplan, who served as a partner until his appointment to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in 1994.

Zak Sawyer, a representative for Roberta Kaplan, contested the conflict-of-interest claims, asserting that the judge and Roberta Kaplan had a brief overlap of less than two years in the early 1990s at a large law firm. Sawyer emphasized that she never worked directly for him and clarified that their interactions were limited during that period.

The pending appeal adds another layer to the legal saga, with Trump's legal team raising questions about the fairness of the trial due to the alleged undisclosed connection between the presiding judge and Carroll's lawyer. This development underscores the complexity and contentious nature of legal proceedings involving high-profile figures.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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