By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected Donald Trump's bid to put the writer E. Jean Carroll's second defamation case on hold, but sped up the former U.S. president's appeal.
Trump is appealing U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan's June 29 refusal to dismiss Carroll's lawsuit, and Aug. 7 dismissal of some of his defenses and a defamation counterclaim against the former Elle magazine columnist.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan combined the appeals and will hear them on an expedited basis, with oral arguments possible by late October. A trial is scheduled for Jan. 15, 2024.
Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in damages over Trump's June 2019 denial that he raped her in a midtown Manhattan department store dressing room in the mid-1990s.
Kaplan ruled on Sept. 6 that Trump's denial was defamatory, leaving only the question of damages for a jury.
Another jury on May 9 awarded Carroll $5 million for sexual assault and defamation, after Trump last October again denied that the rape occurred.
Trump's next appeals court filing is due on Sept. 28. His lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In seeking to put Carroll's second case on hold, Trump argued that Kaplan should have let him assert absolute presidential immunity as a defense.
Trump also cited "immense public interest" in letting the appeals court decide the issue.
On Aug. 18, the judge certified that Trump's appeal of his refusal to dismiss the case was "frivolous." The appeals court could order Trump to pay damages and costs if it agreed.
In his counterclaim, Trump said Carroll should not have tarred his reputation by continuing to say after the May verdict, including in comments on CNN, that he raped her.
Trump holds a dominant lead in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination despite facing four federal and state criminal indictments, including two related to efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss. He has pleaded not guilty.
The case is Carroll v. Trump, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 23-1045 and 23-1146.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)