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Trump lawyer raises questions about relationship between E. Jean Carroll judge, attorney

By Stew Davidson
|
January 31, 2024

Donald Trump's attorney, Alina Habba, has filed a motion in a Manhattan federal court expressing serious concerns over a potential conflict of interest involving the judge in the E. Jean Carroll trial and Carroll's lawyer.

Habba asserts that the prior working relationship between Judge Lewis Kaplan and Roberta Kaplan, Carroll's lawyer, could undermine the credibility of the recent $83.3 million verdict against Trump, as the Daily Mail reported.

Alleged Mentorship Raises Questions

The heart of Habba's argument centers around the claim that Judge Kaplan acted as a mentor to Roberta Kaplan during their time at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in the early 1990s.

This mentorship, Habba suggests, presents a conflict of interest that could warrant a new trial.

This assertion is supported by a New York Post article quoting an anonymous former partner at the firm, who highlighted the close professional relationship between the Kaplans.

Legal and Ethical Implications

Habba's motion points to the Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges, emphasizing rules that mandate judges to recuse themselves from cases where their impartiality could be questioned.

The filing underscores the need for transparency, particularly in instances where a judge has had prior associations with legal counsel involved in a case.

Habba's discovery of this relationship after the trial's conclusion has sparked allegations of ethical violations, prompting the Trump legal team to consider this matter in their planned appeal.

Trial Controversies and Next Steps

The trial itself was marked by contentious interactions between Judge Kaplan and Trump's legal team, with Habba at one point facing threats of contempt.

The surprising verdict, which awarded Carroll over $60 million more in damages than sought, has only fueled the controversy surrounding the trial's fairness and impartiality.

Roberta Kaplan's representative has denied any conflict of interest, stating the two Kaplans barely knew each other during their brief overlap at the law firm.

Despite these denials, Trump's legal team is set to appeal the verdict, questioning the trial's integrity and the judicial system at large.

Trump Criticizes Trial Verdict

In the aftermath of the verdict, Trump took to social media to criticize the trial as a politically motivated attack, underscoring his intention to challenge the outcome.

Trump said, "Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon. They have taken away all First Amendment Rights. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!"

Habba, from the steps of the courthouse, delivered a harsh criticism of the trial, condemning what she perceives as a "weaponized" justice system.

She argued that her client is facing targeting due to his lead in the polls and pointed out several purported issues with the trial, which she highlighted just one day before she claims to have become aware of the alleged "conflict of interest."

Habba, who has represented Trump in various New York cases, informed the media that she was denied the opportunity to introduce evidence and alleged that one of her witnesses had received payment from the law firm of Carroll's attorney.