By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A U.S. judge on Friday ruled that former President Donald Trump had filed a “frivolous” appeal of his decision not to dismiss the first of writer E. Jean Carroll’s two defamation lawsuits stemming from her claim that he raped her.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan also denied Trump’s bid to put Carroll’s case on hold while he appeals the June 29 decision, which found that Trump did not deserve absolute presidential immunity for calling her a liar.
“Mr. Trump has not provided a single reason for the court to find that there is any likelihood that he will succeed on appeal,” Kaplan wrote. “This court certifies that the appeal itself is frivolous.”
Under federal rules governing court procedure, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan could order Trump to pay damages and costs to Carroll if it found his appeal frivolous.
Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba said in an email that she disagreed with but “fully anticipated” Kaplan’s decision, and will “promptly move before the Second Circuit for a stay to preserve our client’s entitlement to presidential immunity.”
Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, declined to comment.
The case is among a slew of legal problems that Trump, 77, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, faces as he seeks another White House term.
These include four separate criminal indictments, including two for attempting to reverse his 2020 election loss.
NO IRREPARABLE HARM
Carroll, 79, sued Trump in November 2019 over his denial five months earlier that he raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan in the mid-1990s.
The case is separate from the May 9 verdict where a jury found Trump liable to pay Carroll $5 million for sexual abuse, and for defamation over a similar denial in an October 2022 social media post. Trump is also appealing that verdict.
In seeking a stay, the former president said he had a substantial likelihood of showing that Kaplan’s June 29 decision was wrong, and that there was “immense public interest” in letting the appeals court decide the issue.
Trump also said he would suffer irreparable harm if a trial, scheduled for Jan. 15, 2024, occurred before the appeals court weighed in.
But the judge said Carroll deserved her day in court without having to compete with possible trials in other Trump cases and the later stages of his presidential campaign.
Kaplan also said Trump waived any claim to irreparable harm by waiting more than 3-1/2 years to raise the immunity defense as a reason for delay.
“The only purported harm Mr. Trump reasonably may claim he would suffer in this case would be having to stand trial,” the judge wrote.
The case is Carroll v. Trump, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 20-07311.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)
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