Judge Kaplan Finally Registers Judgment in Trump Defamation Case

On Thursday, Judge Lewis Kaplan entered his judgment on writer and journalist E. Jean Carroll’s $83.3 million defamation case against Trump. That starts a thirty-day clock ticking for Trump to attempt to appeal the judgment before he is forced to pay up.

Breaking down the money

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In the judgment, Kaplan broke down the massive fee Trump must pay: $7.3 million in “compensatory damages,” $11 million in compensation “for reputation repair,” and $65 million in “punitive damages.” 

Time ticking

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Thursday’s entry officially starts a thirty-day countdown during which Trump can attempt to lower that sum. He has repeatedly said that he will appeal the ruling.

Specificities

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“Specifically, federal rules governing civil cases stay a plaintiff’s execution on a judgment for 30 days after the entry of judgment,” legal analyst Lisa Rubin explained on X, “which effectively means he has 30 days to provide a bond or other security to lengthen that stay pending an appeal.”

Starting over

Judge with gavel and papers sitting at wooden table against light grey background, closeup

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“Trump also has 28 days after the entry of judgment to move for a new trial or to ‘alter or amend’ the judgment,” Rubin explained.

Mysterious delay

Hour glass and calendar concept for time slipping away for important appointment date, schedule and deadline

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The jury reached its decision on Jan 26, more than a fortnight before Kaplan officially entered the judgment. The delay raised some concerns among legal experts, who wondered what was taking Kaplan so long when he had been so swift during Trump’s previous trial against Carroll.

Noticing what’s happening

X twitter social network on laptop screen.

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“Here’s what’s really odd,” Rubin wrote on X this week. “Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court and/or the clerk of court are required to enter judgment promptly after a verdict.”

Wanting to know

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“So why is the clock for Trump’s bond and post-trial motions, including Alina Habba’s promised motion for a new trial, not yet ticking?” Rubin continued. “I don’t know — but I’d really like to find out.”

One option

Warning, whisper, stop, secret

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One option Trump faces is to pay the court the entire fee up front. The court wouldn’t give it straight to Carroll, instead holding on to it for a few weeks while Trump attempts to convince Judge Kaplan to lower the amount he must pay.

Another option

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Trump could also secure a bond. That would allow him to pay a much smaller sum up front.

Possible amounts

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According to attorney Colleen Kerwick, the amount Trump would have to pay might range from 0.3% to 5% of the total fee. He could lower the premium by using his property as collateral.

Able to pay

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According to Susanne Craig, a reporter who has tracked Trump’s finances for years, the former president should be able to pay the fine to Carroll.

Threat looming

Former US President Donald Trump sits in New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization, in New York City on January 11, 2024. Trump's legal team will deliver closing arguments January 11 in the fraud case after the judge barred the former president from using the trial finale as an election campaign grandstand. (Photo by Peter Foley / POOL / AFP)

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However, Trump’s civil fraud trial is nearing a conclusion, which could see the former president hit with a $370 million dollar fine. Craig thought Trump might not be able to handle paying such a high combined sum at once — at least not without selling off some of his property empire.

Making fun

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“It will be a big bond,” one user replied to Rubin’s post on X, mimicking Trump’s distinct pattern of speech. “A bond like nobody has seen before.” Other users joked that Trump hadn’t been able to raise the money from Tucker Carlson.

The context

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In May, a jury ruled that Trump was liable for sexually assaulting Carroll, and also ordered him to pay the writer $5 million in damages for defamatory comments he made about her. These comments were separate from the ones for which he was ordered to pay $83.3 million.

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