Donald Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, demanded Monday that the judge presiding over E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against the former president provide “all of the relevant facts” related to an alleged conflict of interest he had with the advice columnist’s lead counsel.
A jury awarded Carroll $83.3 million in damages from Trump last week, before The Post learned from sources that Manhattan federal Judge Lewis Kaplan was once a “mentor” to Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan, when they both worked together in the early 1990s at the Paul, Weiss Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison law firm in Midtown.
“If Your Honor truly worked with Ms. Kaplan in any capacity — especially if there was a mentor/mentee relationship — that fact should have been disclosed before any case involving these parties was permitted to proceed forward,” Habba wrote in a letter to the judge.
“This issue is particularly concerning since Plaintiff’s other lead counsel, Shawn Crowley, served as Your Honor’s law clerk, and we were previously advised that Your Honor co-officiated her wedding.”
Habba argued that the judge may be able to provide information about his alleged relationship with Kaplan that may impact Trump’s anticipated appeal of the defamation judgment and a previous $5 million judgment in Carroll’s favor for sexual abuse.
“Here, without knowing more information (or having a specific factual denial by Your Honor that you had a mentor-mentee relationship with Ms. Kaplan), we are unable to flesh out our position concerning what specific relief should be requested,” Habba wrote.
“Surely, however, this Court should provide defense counsel with all of the relevant facts. At a minimum, this information could certainly prove relevant to President Trump’s forthcoming Rule 59 motion,” she added, referencing Trump’s expected request for a new trial or for the court’s decision to be reconsidered.
“Lew was like her mentor,” a former Paul Weiss partner told The Post about the dynamic between Lewis Kaplan and Roberta Kaplan when they worked together at the firm.
A spokesperson for Roberta Kaplan downplayed any relationship the pair might have had.
“They overlapped for less than two years in the early 1990s at a large law firm when he was a senior partner and she was a junior associate and she never worked for him,” the spokesperson told The Post.
Habba noted that even before she was made aware of the alleged conflict of interest, it was clear to her the court was “overtly hostile” towards Trump and her team.
“We believe, and will argue on appeal, that the Court was overtly hostile towards defense counsel and President Trump, and displayed preferential treatment towards Plaintiff’s counsel,” Habba wrote. “Indeed, the rulings, tone, and demeanor of the bench raised significant concerns even before the New York Post’s investigative journalism unearthed these new facts.”
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