By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – A U.S. judge said on Thursday that Donald Trump will have an anonymous jury in the upcoming defamation trial of rape accuser E. Jean Carroll, citing threats of harassment by jurors, including from supporters of the former president of the United States.
Saying “this is a unique case,” US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said the names, addresses and workplaces of prospective jurors for the former Elle magazine columnist’s April 25 trial of Trump will be kept secret.
He also said jurors will be transported together to and from the courthouse and assisted by US marshals during trial breaks.
Kaplan said the need for juror anonymity reflects the “unprecedented circumstances in which this trial will take place, including extensive pre-publicity and a very strong risk that jurors fear harassment, unwanted invasions of their privacy, and retaliation.”
Trump’s lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Carroll’s lawyers, through a spokesman, declined to comment.
Kaplan asked Trump and Carroll earlier this month if they objected to an anonymous jury. Neither.
Carroll sued Trump twice for defamation for denying his claim that he raped her in late 1995 or early 1996 in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan.
The April 25 trial stemmed from an October 2022 post by Trump on his social media platform Truth.
Trump said he didn’t know Carroll, who made up the rape claim to promote his upcoming memoir, and that the claim was a “hoax,” “lie,” “scam,” and “complete scam.”
Carroll’s lawsuit also includes a battery claim under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which allows survivors of sexual abuse to sue their alleged abusers even if the statute of limitations has expired.
‘HARESSATION OR WORSE’
In his decision, Kaplan cited Trump’s March 18 protest request if he were indicted in a Manhattan District Attorney’s case for covering up a cash payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
Kaplan said Trump’s reaction “was perceived by some as inciting violence” and said some people accused of the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol “rightly or wrongly” attributed their actions at Trump’s urging.
The judge also said that Trump has “repeatedly” attacked courts, judges, law enforcement agencies and even individual jurors.
These, the judge said, included the grand jury forerunners examining whether Trump tried to influence the results of the 2020 election in Georgia, and the jury from Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone’s 2019 obstruction trial.
“If jurors’ identities were disclosed, there would be a strong likelihood of unwanted media attention to jurors, attempts to influence and/or harassment or worse of jurors by Mr. Trump’s supporters,” Kaplan wrote.
Two media outlets objected to an anonymous jury, but Kaplan said the safety of the jurors outweighed their interest in learning the jurors’ identities.
Carroll filed her other defamation lawsuit in November 2019, five months after Trump first denied the rape and claimed she made it up. Earlier this week, Kaplan indefinitely postponed a trial scheduled for April 10 in that case.
The case is Carroll v. Trump, United States District Court, Southern District of New York, no. 22-10016.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)