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I have been following the E Jean Carroll case and as far as I can tell Trump has lost in court at every turn so far. But I have read that he is still appealing. Given that it is a civil and not a criminal suit, what, in legal terms, is he currently appealing?

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  • There are two cases: which one are you referring to?
    – user6726
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 14:51
  • @user6726 Is he currently appealing both of them?
    – Simd
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 15:00
  • Why the downvote?
    – Simd
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 6:49

1 Answer 1

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The legal fight between E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump has been hugely complicated. In particular, there were actually two related lawsuits filed by Carroll against Trump, which are described in detail at the Wikipedia link above. But to summarize, as of September 2023:

  1. Trump's team is appealing the dismissal of a defamation counterclaim against Carroll, based on the decision in Carroll II.
  2. Trump's team is appealing the judge's decision to disallow certain lines of defense in the original defamation trial (Carroll I).
  3. Trump's team is appealing the judge's refusal to pause Carroll I while appeal #2 is being decided.

Carroll II

In May 2022, the state of New York amended its laws to allow survivors of sexual assault to file civil lawsuits against their attackers, even if the statute of limitations no longer allowed criminal prosecution for these acts. Carroll filed a civil lawsuit against Trump in November 2022 (Carroll II) alleging that Trump sexually assaulted and raped her in early 1996, and that Trump had defamed her in certain public statements in October 2022; and she sought damages for these actions.

In May 2023, a jury found that Trump was liable for damages for sexual assault and defamation, but that Carroll had not provided sufficient evidence of rape. The jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.

After the verdict, Carroll made public statements that Trump did in fact rape her. In June 2023, Trump filed a counterclaim against Carroll, saying that since the Carroll II verdict did not include liability for rape, these statements constituted defamation against Trump. This counterclaim was dismissed, and Trump's team is currently appealing this dismissal.

Carroll I

The first lawsuit (Carroll I) was filed in 2019, while Trump was still in office. This suit was not over the sexual assault itself, but instead alleged that Trump defamed Carroll in the process of denying Carroll's claims.

In September 2020, the federal Dept. of Justice filed a claim that Trump was acting in his capacity as a federal employee when he denied Carroll's claims. If successful, this action would have changed the defendant from Donald Trump (the private individual) to the United States government; and since the United States cannot be sued for defamation, this would have made the case moot.

This action introduced a whole mess of thorny legal questions, and delayed the resolution of this first lawsuit substantially. Glossing over the procedural details that ensued, in July 2023 the DOJ decided that it would no longer pursue the position that Trump was a federal employee when he made these comments; in other words, Trump (the private individual) could be sued for defamation.

In the interim, Carroll II was decided, and so the court trying the defamation suit did not have to decide whether Carroll's claims concerning the sexual assault were true or false. (Part of a defamation suit is proving that the statements in question were actually false.) The court granted a summary judgement against Trump, and a trial to determine damages will begin in January 2024.

To the best of my knowledge, Trump currently has two active appeals in this lawsuit. One involves the fact that his legal team introduced several novel defenses late in the game, which the judge rejected; this decision is being appealed. Trump's team then asked the judge to pause (stay) the case while this above appeal was being decided. The judge denied this motion, and Trump's team is also appealing that decision.

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  • Thank you! The dismissal of the defamation claim against Carroll is particularly interesting as the judge ruled the sexual assault the jury found him liable for would be called rape in common language and also other legal jurisdictions
    – Simd
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 15:26
  • Does this mean Trump has actually paid any money to Carroll yet?
    – Simd
    Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 15:27

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