Jury Selection Begins as Judge Denies Trump’s Request to Suspend Defamation Trial for Mother-in-Law’s Funeral

NEW YORK (AP) – Jury selection began on Tuesday in a New York courtroom for a defamation trial involving former President Donald Trump. The trial centers around columnist E. Jean Carroll’s claims that Trump sexually abused her in the 1990s. Trump had requested to suspend the trial to attend the funeral of his mother-in-law, but the judge denied his request.

The courtroom exchange between Trump’s lawyers and Judge Lewis A. Kaplan grew combative as they discussed the evidence in the case and Trump’s desire to attend the funeral. This phase of the trial focuses on determining the amount of damages Trump owes for his remarks about Carroll. In a previous trial in May, a different jury awarded Carroll $5 million after concluding that Trump had sexually abused her but had not proven that he raped her.

Trump, who did not attend the previous trial, showed up for the current proceedings on Tuesday after his political victory in the Iowa caucus. As prospective jurors were sworn in, Trump interacted with them, visibly shaking his head at times and twisting around in his chair to look at one juror who had previously worked for his daughter’s company.

Trump’s attorneys have complained about rulings made by the judge prior to the trial, claiming that they have limited their ability to defend their client. They argued that, due to Trump’s pending appeal of the first verdict, the trial should not proceed at all. One of Trump’s attorneys also requested that the trial be adjourned on Thursday for the funeral of former first lady Melania Trump’s mother, but the judge only agreed to allow Trump to testify on Monday if the trial is still ongoing.

The judge has set strict limits on what Trump can talk about during his testimony. He has banned any mention of Carroll’s past relationships, sexual experiences, or motives, and has reminded Trump’s legal team that they cannot make arguments inconsistent with the court’s previous ruling that Trump lied about sexually assaulting Carroll.

Despite the ongoing legal battles, Trump remains a frontrunner in 2024 presidential primary polls. He has indicated that he plans to vigorously fight both civil and criminal cases against him, stating that it is part of his campaign. Carroll, on the other hand, seeks $10 million in compensatory damages and additional punitive damages, claiming that Trump’s statements have damaged her career and reputation.

The trial is expected to last three to five days, and opening arguments may take place later in the day. Trump entered the courtroom separately from Carroll, arriving in a motorcade and using a special entrance not typically used by the public.


Associated Press Writer Jake Offenhartz contributed to this story.