alina habba

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Trump’s lawyer roasted for trying to force mistrial over deleted emails

Nobody was impressed by her legal acumen


Marlon Ettinger


Posted on Jan 17, 2024

Today was the second day of the second trial for former President Donald Trump in a case brought by E. Carroll Jean, the longtime Elle columnist who has already successfully sued the former president for sexual assault and defamation after he denied that he had raped her in the mid-1990s, then repeatedly insulted her after she made the claim.

Now, Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba is getting dinged over a dubious legal maneuver to get the entire trial thrown out.

The current trial is just about damages in the second case—Trump was already found guilty by default that he defamed Carroll.

And today was full of fireworks.

Trump called the judge in the trial, Lewis Kaplan “totally biased and hostile” in a post on Truth Social after sparring with him in the courtroom, with Kaplan threatening to kick him out if he didn’t stop talking loudly with his lawyers during Carroll’s testimony, reported Reuters

Then, Habba’s strategy of asking for a mistrial, which came during a series of questions lawyers asked Carroll over the type of abuse she was alleging she received after Trump’s remarks defamed her.

“You said you receive death threats daily—but you deleted them until trial?” Habba asked Carroll, who was explaining how she deleted many messages because she has “an old computer,” reported Inner City Press.

“Did you know you had a discovery obligation?” Habba asked.

“They were just replies, slime…” Carroll answered.

Habba then tried to trip Carroll up by asking if she’d also deleted supportive messages.

“Yes,” Carroll answered. “I tend to delete questions that I know I won’t use. But I have an entire label for supportive messages.”

Habba took that exchange as the basis for a mistrial, claiming it was necessary because Carroll had deleted evidence.

“Denied and the jury will disregard everything Ms. Habba just said,” Judge Kaplan answered.

Posters on X reacted to Habba’s move by calling her moves ridiculous and counterproductive.

“This is absolutely WILD… Trump’s attorney is completely unhinged…” wrote @nantienomi.

“lmao Alina Habba is such a bad lawyer,” posted @bri_guy_ny.

It’s not uncommon for lawyers to try to force a mistrial over trivial details, especially when defending cases where they don’t see much chance of winning over a jury. But Habba’s attempts went so far as to come across as ridiculous.

One poster joked that Habba would try to get a mistrial over a leaf falling or a distant planet turning slightly.

Mistrials happen when a trial can’t be completed, according to the American Bar Association, citing reasons such as the death of jurors or attorneys, sketchy behavior in drawing up the jury that’s discovered, “fundamental error” in the course of the trial that can’t be corrected, or juror misconduct.

Evidence questions are debated and resolved between parties well before a case comes to trial, so disagreements over them during the trial aren’t likely to result in a mistrial.

Or to sum it up as one poster put it: “I’m not a trial lawyer but this seems like pretty awful lawyering.”

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*First Published: Jan 17, 2024, 5:52 pm CST