A federal judge ruled against President Donald Trump regarding his attempt to countersue E. Jean Carroll, calling the action “dilatory” and taken in “bad faith.”
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York issued his opinion Friday arguing, in part, that Trump could have filed his countersuit 14 months ago instead of waiting until January of this year. He referred to the court’s discretion under the legal standard to “deny leave for good reason, including futility, bad faith, undue delay, or undue prejudice to the opposing party.”
“The record convinces this Court,” Kaplan wrote, “that the defendant’s litigation tactics, whatever their intent, have delayed the case to an extent that readily could have been far less.” This, Kaplan argued, was predicated on the fact that there was only a single count of defamation and the case could have been “tried and decided…long ago.”
Carroll’s Nov. 2019 lawsuit accused Trump of defamation after the president denied a story published in New York magazine in June of that year related to a book release. The story claimed Trump had raped her in a New York City department store dressing room in the 1990s.
Her sexual assault allegations were dropped, but Carroll insisted Trump had publicly demeaned her following the story’s release.
“I am filing this on behalf of every woman who has ever been harassed, assaulted, silenced, or spoken up only to be shamed, fired, ridiculed and belittled,” Carroll said at the time. “No person in this country should be above the law – including the president.”
NEW: @realDonaldTrump responds in statement to E. Jean Carroll Accusations: pic.twitter.com/b8GUZjsMyL
— Fin Gómez (@finnygo) June 21, 2019
Trump accused Carroll of being an operative for the Democratic Party and for trying to bolster sales for her book. Trump then argued that in his capacity as president he could not be sued for defamation because his statements were part of his official duties.
This position was supported for a time by President Biden’s Department of Justice in June 2021 when they weighed in, arguing favorability toward defending Trump while also calling his remarks “crude and disrespectful.”
However, Trump is still being defended by personal lawyers at this time as Kaplan has also denied any effort for the Justice Department to intercede in the case. Should the appeal on that matter be ruled in Trump’s favor, the entire case could be dismissed.
Trump’s attorney Alina Habba issued a statement to the media following Kaplan’s opinion saying, “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.”
Trump’s defense had also tried to use New York’s ant-SLAPP, “strategic lawsuits against public participation” law against Carroll which is “intended to deter actions filed to punish or harass a defendant for participating in public life. Judge Kaplan saw the coverage of the statute to be narrow and dismissed the claim.
Roberta Kaplan, one of Carroll’s attorneys, remarked on behalf of the judge’s ruling for the plaintiff, “My client E. Jean Carroll and I could not agree more.”
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