Trump attorney Joe Tacopina Monday requested and was denied a mistrial in columnist E. Jean Carroll’s civil sexual assault suit against the former President. Tacopina made the request in an 18-page letter alleging that District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who has presided over the trial since it started last week, has made “pervasive unfair and prejudicial rulings” over the course of the trial.
The letter outlined several claims supporting the request for a mistrial, including the allegation that the court mischaracterized evidence in Carroll’s favor and permitted improper testimony. Tacopina asserted that while the court has ultimate procedural discretion, “there comes a point where the cumulative effect of its one-sided rulings manifests a deeper leaning towards one party over another.” In case the mistrial was not granted, Tacopina requested that the court “correct the record… in which the court has mischaracterized the facts of this case.”
The law governing mistrials dictates that courts may discharge a jury before it can give a verdict when there is a “manifest necessity” to do so. However, the standards for identifying “manifest necessity” are not explicitly defined and thus are largely fact-intensive.
In her suit against Trump, Carroll is alleging battery and defamation. Though Carroll brought her original defamation action against Trump in 2019, she was able to refile in November 2022 to include battery because of a New York law that permitted otherwise time-barred civil lawsuits for sexual assault to be brought for a period of one year.