IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Judge denies Trump's bid to delay civil rape trial

A lawyer for Trump had argued that the former president should be allowed a “cooling off” period after his recent historic indictment by a Manhattan grand jury.
Former President Donald Trump at the NRA's annual convention in Indianapolis, Ind., on April 14, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump sought a four-week delay in the civil rape and defamation trial stemming from a lawsuit by writer E. Jean Carroll. Trump denies the allegations.Alex Wroblewski / AFP - Getty Images

A federal judge on Monday denied former President Donald Trump’s bid for a four-week delay in the civil rape and defamation trial against him.

Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina asked U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in a letter last week to postpone the trial in the lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, scheduled to start April 25, until the end of May. Carroll’s lawsuit alleges that Trump raped her at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s, which Trump has repeatedly denied.

Tacopina argued that his client should be allowed a “cooling off” period after his recent historic indictment by a Manhattan grand jury in a case involving hush money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign, which drew a surge of media coverage.

In a 10-page opinion denying Trump’s request, Kaplan wrote that “there is no justification for an adjournment.”

“This case is entirely unrelated to the state prosecution," Kaplan wrote. "The suggestion that the recent media coverage of the New York indictment — coverage significantly (though certainly not entirely) invited or provoked by Mr. Trump’s own actions — would preclude selection of a fair and impartial jury on April 25 is pure speculation. So too is his suggestion that a month’s delay of the start of this trial would ‘cool off’ anything, even if any ‘cooling off’ were necessary.”

Kaplan also rejected the notion that delaying the trial would decrease the possibility of “negative publicity” before the trial. In the request to delay the trial, Tacopina argued that the rush of media coverage of Trump’s indictment and arraignment could taint the jury pool.

Kaplan wrote: “It is quite important to remember [also] that postponements in circumstances such as this are not necessarily unmixed blessings from the standpoint of a defendant who is hoping for the dissipation of what he regards, or says he regards, as negative publicity. Events happen during postponements. Sometimes they can make matters worse.”

Kaplan also noted that “at least some portion” of recent media coverage of Trump’s indictment “was of his own doing. He said the sexual conduct alleged at the heart of the Manhattan district attorney’s case, which involves adult film star Stormy Daniels’ allegations that she had an affair with Trump — accusations that Trump denies — and was paid to keep quiet, is “dramatically different” from Carroll’s allegations of rape by Trump.

Kaplan concluded that there is a “possibility that this latest eve-of-trial request for a postponement is a delay tactic” by Trump and would disrupt the jury panel that was summoned more than three weeks ago, as well as court personnel involved in making preparations for the trial, including security arrangements. He noted that Carroll is 79 years old, that her case has been pending for three years and that both parties are entitled to a fair trial.

Tacopina and Carroll’s lawyers declined a request for comment. A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Washington, D.C., appeals court ruled that it did not have enough facts to decide whether Trump was acting as president when he accused Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, in June 2019 of lying about the alleged encounter.

It sent the case back to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, which in September asked whether under local law Trump made his comments in his role as president or in his personal capacity, as Carroll argued.