Trump Lawyer Abandons Attempt to Discredit Defamation Case Judge

Alina Habba, one of Donald Trump’s attorneys, quickly backed off a recent claim that the judge who presided over E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against the former president had an “insane” and “incestuous” conflict of interest—because he briefly worked at the same major law firm as one of Carroll’s lawyers.The connection was first raised in

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Alina Habba, one of Donald Trump’s attorneys, quickly backed off a recent claim that the judge who presided over E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against the former president had an “insane” and “incestuous” conflict of interest—because he briefly worked at the same major law firm as one of Carroll’s lawyers.

The connection was first raised in an article by the New York Post which quoted an anonymous former partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, who said that Judge Lewis Kaplan—then a senior litigation partner—had been “like a mentor” to Carroll attorney Roberta Kaplan (no relation)—who joined the firm as a junior litigation associate. The pair overlapped for just two years, from 1992-1994, according to the tabloid.

The claims came just one day after a jury awarded Carroll an $83.3 million judgment from Trump—his second courtroom loss to the writer in recent months.

“The underlying defamation case tried last year, and the damages trial completed last week, were both litigations in which there were many clashes between Your Honor and defense counsel,” Habba wrote in her Monday letter to the court. She also promised in an interview with the Post that she would use the information in appealing last week’s verdict.

“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,” she added in her letter. “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.”

Roberta Caplan called the allegations “utterly baseless” in a letter of her own Tuesday, while threatening to seek sanctions against Habba for continuing in her attempts to discredit the court.

“During that relatively brief period more than thirty years ago, I do remember the Paul, Weiss partners with whom I worked and none of them was Your Honor,” Roberta Kaplan wrote. “More specifically, I have no recollection from that time period of ever interacting with Your Honor on a case, participating with Your Honor in a client or case-related meeting, or attending a court proceeding with Your Honor. In fact, I remember no direct interaction from that time period with Your Honor at all.”

“This is hardly surprising since at that time, I was a very junior associate at a large New York law firm and Your Honor was one of the leaders of the Paul, Weiss litigation department,” she added. “Needless to say, at no point have we ever had a ‘mentor’ type relationship, as alleged by Ms. Habba.”

The strongly-worded response seemed to do the trick; Habba almost immediately backed off the claims in another letter just hours later Tuesday, saying that her filing was simply meant to inquire whether there was any validity to the Post’s reporting.

“Since Ms. Kaplan has now denied that there was ever a mentor-mentee relationship between herself and Your Honor, this issue has seemingly been resolved,” she wrote.

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