Writer E. Jean Carroll's lawyers urge judge to reject Trump's request to postpone $83.3M jury award

NEW YORK (AP) — Lawyers for E. Jean Carroll urged a judge Thursday to reject former President Donald Trump’s efforts to avoid posting security to secure an $83.3 million defamation award won by the writer, saying his promises to pay a judgment his lawyers predict will be overturned on appeal are the equivalent of scribbles on a paper napkin.

“The reasoning Trump offers in seeking this extraordinary relief boils down to nothing more than ‘trust me,’” the lawyers wrote in a submission to U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who presided over a trial that ended late last month with the hefty judgment.

Since then, a Manhattan state judge has imposed a $454 million civil fraud penalty against the Republican presidential front-runner after concluding that Trump, his company and top executives, including sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr., schemed for years to cheat banks and insurers by inflating his wealth on financial statements used to secure loans and make deals. An appellate judge on Wednesday refused to halt collection of the award.

Last week, Trump's lawyers asked Kaplan to suspend the defamation award, citing a “strong probability” that it would be reduced or eliminated on appeal.

They called the $65 million punitive award, combined with $18.3 million in compensatory damages, “plainly excessive.”

On Sunday, the judge responded to the request by first noting that it was made 25 days after the jury verdict and then highlighting the fact that Trump was asking to avoid posting any security. Kaplan said he would decline to issue any stay of the judgment without giving Carroll's attorney's a “meaningful opportunity” to respond.

In their response, Carroll's attorneys mocked Trump for seeking to dodge posting any security on the grounds that his arguments are legally sound and he can be trusted.

“He simply asks the Court to ‘trust me’ and offers, in a case with an $83.3 million judgment against him, the court filing equivalent of a paper napkin; signed by the least trustworthy of borrowers,” they wrote.

The lawyers said that what Trump seeks is “forbidden” by the law and his lawyers' arguments are based on “flimsy authority” in past court cases.

They said recent developments regarding the four criminal cases he faces and the $454 million judgment against him also “give rise to very serious concerns about Trump's cash position and the feasibility (and ease) of collecting on the judgment in this case.”

The January defamation verdict capped a trial which Trump, 77, attended and briefly testified at as he repeatedly tried to convey to the jury through his courtroom behavior, including head shakes and mutterings within earshot of the jury, that he disbelieved Carroll's claims and thought he was being treated unfairly.

The jury had been instructed to rely on the findings of another jury that last May awarded $5 million in damages to Carroll after concluding that Trump had sexually abused her at the Bergdorf Goodman store across the street from Trump Tower in 1996 and had defamed her with comments he made in October 2022.

It was instructed only to consider damages. Lawyers for Carroll urged a large award, citing proof that Trump continued defaming Carroll, even during the trial, and would not stop unless it harmed him financially. They said Carroll needed money too because her income had suffered from Trump's attacks and she needed to repair her reputation and boost security to protect herself.

Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press