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Anonymous Jury to Deliberate in High-Profile Defamation Case Against Trump

In an upcoming civil trial set for January 16, 2024, former President Donald Trump will face an anonymous jury as they determine the damages to be awarded to E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of defamation. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan has ordered special protections for jurors, citing “strong reason” due to the former president’s public criticisms of Carroll and the intense media scrutiny surrounding the case.

The decision to keep juror identities confidential comes in light of concerns about potential media attention, influence attempts, and even harassment. Kaplan highlighted Trump’s history of commenting on legal matters, including a recent instance where he was fined for violating a gag order in a separate civil fraud lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

As a result of these concerns, the names, addresses, and workplaces of prospective jurors will remain confidential. Additionally, their transportation to and from the courthouse will be arranged collectively, and U.S. marshals will supervise them during trial breaks.

This legal battle stems from a lawsuit initiated by Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, in November 2019. She is seeking at least $10 million in damages following comments Trump made from the White House after she publicly accused him of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s. Trump has vehemently denied these allegations, asserting that he did not know Carroll and suggesting that she fabricated the story to promote her memoir.

Interestingly, neither party opposed the use of an anonymous jury, indicating a rare point of consensus in this high-stakes litigation.

The case has garnered significant attention, not least because of its timing. Trump, who is appealing a separate $5 million verdict against him for sexual assault and defamation, remains a key figure in the political arena. He is currently considered a frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 U.S. election, even as he contends with four federal and state criminal indictments.

As legal proceedings advance, all eyes are on the federal appeals court in Manhattan, which is set to decide whether presidential immunity shields Trump from Carroll’s first lawsuit. With significant legal and political implications at stake, this case continues to capture the nation’s attention.