Former President Donald Trump‘s attorney, Alina Habba, has withdrawn a conflict of interest claim against U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case. Habba had previously filed a motion citing a New York Post article that mentioned the professional connection between Judge Kaplan and Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney. However, Carroll’s lawyer threatened to pursue sanctions if the claim was not dropped.
In response to the motion, Roberta Kaplan’s spokesman, Zak Sawyer, clarified that although both attorneys had worked at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in the 1990s, they had minimal overlap and no mentor-mentee relationship. Roberta Kaplan herself confirmed this in a letter to the judge.
In her motion, Habba argued that if Judge Kaplan and Kaplan had any significant professional relationship, it should have been disclosed prior to the trial. She suggested that the judge had violated the judicial code of conduct and might even use the allegation as ammunition to request a new trial. Habba also raised concerns about the judge’s conduct towards defense counsel during previous interactions.
Roberta Kaplan firmly denied the allegations, pointing out that she had started at Paul, Weiss as a junior associate in 1992, while Judge Kaplan was already a senior partner. She emphasized that she had no recollection of ever interacting with the judge on a case or attending court proceedings together. Kaplan regarded the claim as part of the Trump team’s attempts to discredit the judicial system and indicated she might seek sanctions against Habba.
After Roberta Kaplan’s response, Habba clarified in another letter that she had only inquired about the alleged relationship mentioned in the New York Post article. She acknowledged that the issue seemed to have been resolved since Kaplan denied any mentor-mentee relationship.
Judge Kaplan himself has not commented on the matter. The E. Jean Carroll defamation case has gained significant attention, and the recent dispute between the attorneys adds another layer of complexity to the proceedings.
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