Donald Trump loses 'pointless' mistrial motion in defamation damages case

E. Jean Carroll departs from the federal courthouse after the conclusion of the damages trial against Donald Trump on Jan. 26 in New York City. The jury found that Donald Trump must pay $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll for defamatory statements he made against her in 2019. The total is more than eight times what Carroll asked for in her initial lawsuit. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
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Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Former president Donald Trump's motion to declare a mistrial in the E. Jean Carroll civil defamation case lacked merit and was "entirely pointless," a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Court for Southern New York Judge Lewis Kaplan denied Trump's motion for a mistrial following admission by plaintiff Carroll that she deleted allegedly threatening email messages that she had received after accusing Trump of sexual assault.

Trump's legal team argued the email messages are part of Carroll's damages claim against Trump, which she admitted to deleting while being cross-examined in court. Trump's attorneys orally requested a mistrial after Carroll testified she deleted the email messages in 2019.

Kaplan immediately ruled against the oral mistrial motion during the court proceeding. He said the "motion made no sense" and "granting a mistrial would have been entirely pointless."

Declaring a mistrial would not have ended the case and instead only would have required dismissing the current jury, selecting a new one, and resuming the case, Kaplan said.

Former President Donald Trump enters his building at 40 Wall Street in the financial district of Manhattan on Jan. 11. Photo by Louis Lanzano /UPI
Former President Donald Trump enters his building at 40 Wall Street in the financial district of Manhattan on Jan. 11. Photo by Louis Lanzano /UPI

Trump's legal team filed a written motion seeking a mistrial due to the alleged deletion of evidence but didn't provide new evidence to support the motion, Kaplan said in his Wednesday ruling.

Trump "relies on the same testimony that the court heard and considered at trial," Kaplan said. "He cites no new or controlling cases of law of mistrial, let alone any that the court has overlooked. He has demonstrated no clear error."

Kaplan said the mistrial motion "was entirely baseless and would serve no useful purpose" in the case in which a verdict already has been rendered. Granting it now after denying the oral motion made during the trial "would be even less sensible," he said.

Trump also sought to strike Carroll's testimony, remove any damages attributed to alleged death threats and instruct the jury that the claims of death threats are unproven inferences.

Kaplan denied the requests because Carroll deleted the emails in question prior to deciding to pursue a case against Trump.

Because she deleted them prior to considering whether to file a lawsuit against Trump, there's no way Carroll acted to deprive Trump of the information for the purposes of the trial, Kaplan ruled.

A jury awarded Carroll $83.3 million for defamation damages, but those damages aren't finalized, CNN reported.

The jury on Jan. 26 rendered a verdict against Trump after deliberating for nearly three hours. The jury awarded Carrol $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages for defamation after claiming her accusations against him were untrue in 2019.

Carroll accused Trump of sexually assaulting her while inside the dressing room of a high-end New York City department store in 1990.