Shopping for new law firms to handle Trump’s E. Jean Carroll appeal

Shopping for new law firms to handle Trump’s E. Jean Carroll appeal

Donald Trump.
David Becker/Getty Images

  • Donald Trump is seeking new law firms to represent him in his E. Jean Carroll appeal.
  • “I will make my decision soon!” Trump made the announcement in a game show-like fashion on Truth Social.
  • Legal experts say it’s common for people to use different lawyers on appeals.

Donald Trump appears to be treating his planned appeal in E. Jean Carroll’s second defamation case as his former reality TV star, “The Apprentice.”

“I, along with my team, are in the process of interviewing various law firms to represent me,” the former president announced on his social media platform, Truth Social, on Tuesday in a game show style. a jury returned a verdict forcing him to pay Carroll $83.3 million for defamation.

In his post, Trump again insulted US Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the Manhattan trial, calling him a “Trap hater” and “one of the most ridiculous and unfair Witch Hunts our country has ever seen.” violence.”

Trump, who has been nominated for the presidency by the Republican Party in 2024, has promised that he will soon decide which law firm will represent him in this case.

“This whole scam is a disgrace to our American Justice System. Any lawyer who takes on the TRUMP CASE is either ‘INSANE’ or a TRUE AMERICAN PATRIOT. I will make my decision soon!” Trump said in his post.

Attorney Alina Habba, along with law partner Michael Madaio at Habba Madaio & Associates, was the lead attorney representing Trump in Carroll’s second defamation suit against the former president this month.

Joe Tacopina, a more experienced defense attorney, worked with Habba and Madaio last year when he led Trump’s defense in a separate trial from Carroll’s, which ended in a $5 million jury verdict holding Trump liable for sexual assault and defamation. Tacopina quit Trump’s legal team shortly before the second trial began.

This put Habba in charge of defending Trump for his second trial, which resulted in a much larger jury verdict. While Kaplan respected Tacopina for often ruling against Trump — once calling him a “very good lawyer” — Habba frustrated Kaplan repeatedly during the ensuing trial. The judge reprimanded him at least 14 times in one day for basic law and courtroom procedures.

Habba is still “very much representing President Trump,” a spokeswoman for Habba told Business Insider on Wednesday while Trump is looking for new attorneys to represent him in his appeal of the mass verdict.

“Bringing in an appellate expert is common practice in court proceedings, and comparing a trial lawyer to an appellate lawyer is like comparing a brain surgeon to a heart surgeon,” the spokesman said.

Alina Habba, left, and former President Donald Trump’s attorneys, Michael Madaio.
Matthew Cronin / Insider

Trump has previously used Habba’s firm for appeals

Legal experts agreed, telling Business Insider that it’s common for people to use different attorneys on appeal.

“It’s perfectly normal, indeed expected, for a client who has to appeal the loss of a case to ask for a fresh set of eyes to review any issue on appeal,” said Mark Bederow, a criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor. .

But Trump has used Habba’s law firm in previous appeals related to the case.

Carroll’s defamation suit was first filed in 2019, after Trump called her a liar when he accused her of sexual assault and appealed to appeals courts in New York and Washington over years of questions from lawyers and judges about whether Trump might be. was liable in a civil suit for statements he made while serving as president.

In a high-stakes appeals court hearing in October attended by Business Insider, Madaio argued before a three-judge panel that Trump should have immunity from the lawsuit.

Judge Kaplan previously ruled that Trump waived immunity because he failed to raise a defense for three years and Carroll’s denial of sexual assault allegations in the 1990s that were not related to his role as president anyway.

Attorney Alina Habba and former President Donald Trump.
AP Photo / Mary Altaffer

Habba did not appear in person at the appeal court. Carroll, who is involved, was represented in the proceedings by former Supreme Court Clerk Joshua Matz, who works for Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, the same law firm that represented him in both trials.

An appeals court ultimately upheld Kaplan’s decision and allowed the lawsuit to proceed.

Neama Rahmani, a lawyer and former federal prosecutor, explained that appellate lawyers “have a different skill set” of “looking for legal errors than arguing with a jury.”

Trump, Rahmani said, “probably realizes that Alina Habba lost the second Carroll trial badly because of her limited trial experience and that she needs an experienced appellate attorney.”

“The question is,” he said, “are any of them prepared to accept an appeal they will lose?”

The first of Carroll’s lawsuits against Trump, which was filed in 2022, was related to a claim that he moved forward more quickly regarding statements he made after he left office. Judge Kaplan said the second trial could not re-litigate elements already decided in the first trial, frustrating Trump and his attorneys who wanted to discredit Carroll before the second jury. The judge, who was aware of Trump’s intention to challenge the results of the second trial, had a lot to say to Trump in the courtroom before testifying.

“It is a very well-settled legal principle in this country that prevents actions by frustrated plaintiffs,” the judge said.

Meanwhile, Bederow called it “almost unthinkable” that any attorney would willingly represent Trump “knowing that he has an uncontrollable client.”

“He’s going to do what he wants,” Bederow said of Trump. “He’s going to put on a show. He’s going to storm out of the courtroom in the middle of the proceedings, it’s just crazy.”

“And the reality is that anyone who touches his trial, especially the lawyers,” he said, “ends up tending to some degree of undermining — humiliated, accused, potentially arrested, ridiculed.”

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