(NEW YORK) — If former President Donald Trump opts not to attend his trial next week in which he stands accused of defaming and battering writer E. Jean Carroll, a federal judge ruled Thursday that his lawyer can make no mention of the “burdens” that might spare New York City.
Trump attorney Joe Tacopina had asked the judge on Wednesday to inform the jury that if Trump didn’t appear for the trail in lower Manhattan, it would be to avoid the “logistical and financial burdens upon New York City, its residents, and court itself.”
Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over Carroll’s lawsuit against Trump, said Thursday that the decision whether to attend the trial or testify is Trump’s alone, and that Trump has had “ample time” to make the necessary arrangements.
“Moreover, the Court notes from Mr. Trump’s campaign web site and media reports that he announced earlier this week that he will speak at a campaign event in New Hampshire on April 27, 2023, the third day of the scheduled trial in this case,” Kaplan said in his ruling. “If the Secret Service can protect him at that event, certainly the Secret Service, the Marshals Service, and the City of New York can see to his security in this very secure federal courthouse.”
Kaplan said it was premature to tell the jury anything about Trump’s presence or absence.
“Should he elect not to appear or testify, his counsel may renew the request,” Kaplan said. “In the meantime, there shall be no reference by counsel for Mr. Trump in the presence of the jury panel or the trial jury to Mr. Trump’s alleged desire to testify or to the burdens that any absence on his part allegedly might spare, or might have spared, the Court of the city of New York.”
In her lawsuit, brought in November, Carroll alleges that Trump defamed her by calling her a liar when he denied her claim that he raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. She added a charge of battery under a recently adopted New York law that allows adult survivors of sexual abuse to sue their alleged attacker regardless of the statute of limitations.
A judge last week denied Trump’s attempt to delay the start of the trial, which is scheduled to get underway in New York on Tuesday.
Trump has repeatedly denied Carroll’s allegations.
An attorney for Carroll chided Tacopina’s request on Wednesday, writing in a separate letter that “the notion that Mr. Trump would not appear as some sort of favor to the City of New York — and that the jury should be instructed as much — taxes the credulity of the credulous.”
The judge had given Trump until the end of the day Thursday to let the court know for sure whether he’d attend the trial, but Tacopina said in a letter to the court Thursday afternoon that Trump would make that decision while the trial is in progress.
“Because the decision of the defendant, who is not required to appear as a civil litigant, will be made during the course of the trial. we are not yet in a position to advise the Court in this regard,” Tacopina said. “However, we will inform the Court as soon as a decision is reached, particularly in light of the logistical concerns that will need to be addressed in coordination with the Secret Service, the Marshals Service, and the City of New York.”
“Your consideration in this matter is greatly appreciated,” Tacopina said in the letter.
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