Trump to face anonymous jury in high-profile New York defamation trial
NEW YORK, March 23 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday said Donald Trump will get an anonymous jury in rape accuser E. Jean Carroll's upcoming defamation trial, citing the threat of juror harassment, including by supporters of the former U.S. president.
Saying "this is a unique case," U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said the names, addresses and places of employment of prospective jurors for the former Elle magazine columnist's April 25 trial against Trump will be kept secret.
He also said jurors will be transported together to and from the courthouse, and looked after by U.S. marshals during breaks in the trial.
Kaplan said the need for juror anonymity reflected the "unprecedented circumstances in which this trial will take place, including the extensive pretrial publicity and a very strong risk that jurors will fear harassment, unwanted invasions of their privacy, and retaliation."
Trump's lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for Carroll, through a spokesman, declined to comment.
Kaplan had asked Trump and Carroll earlier this month whether they objected to an anonymous jury. Neither did.
Carroll has sued Trump twice for defamation over his denials of her claim that he raped her in late 1995 or early 1996 in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.
The April 25 trial stemmed from an October 2022 post by Trump on his Truth Social media platform.
Trump maintained that he did not know Carroll, that she made up the rape claim to promote her upcoming memoir, and that the claim was a "hoax," "lie," "con job" and "complete scam."
Carroll's lawsuit also includes a battery claim under New York's Adult Survivors Act, which lets sexual abuse survivors sue their alleged attackers even if statutes of limitations have run out.
'HARASSMENT OR WORSE'
In his decision, Kaplan cited Trump's March 18 call for protest if he were indicted in a Manhattan's district attorney case for covering up a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.
Kaplan said Trump's reaction "has been perceived by some as an incitement to violence," and said some people charged over the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol "rightly or wrongly" attributed their actions to incitement by Trump.
The judge also said Trump has "repeatedly" attacked courts, judges, law enforcement and even individual jurors.
These, the judge said, included the forepersons of the grand jury looking into whether Trump tried to sway the 2020 election results in Georgia, and the jury at longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone's 2019 obstruction trial.
"If jurors' identities were disclosed, there would be a strong likelihood of unwanted media attention to the jurors, influence attempts, and/or of harassment or worse of jurors by supporters of Mr. Trump," Kaplan wrote.
Two media outlets objected to an anonymous jury, but Kaplan said juror safety outweighed their interest in learning jurors' identities.
Carroll filed her other defamation lawsuit in November 2019, five months after Trump first denied the rape occurred and said she made it up. Earlier this week, Kaplan indefinitely postponed the scheduled April 10 trial in that case.
The case is Carroll v Trump, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No 22-10016.
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