Legal Experts Sound Alarm On Trump Lawyer’s Performance

In a notable development in the defamation lawsuit involving former President Donald Trump, his attorney, Alina Habba, faced challenges during the cross-examination of E. Jean Carroll on Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the case, frequently reprimanded Habba for not adhering to court rules and procedures.

Before Carroll’s testimony, Habba had requested an adjournment so that Trump could attend his mother-in-law’s funeral. However, Judge Kaplan denied the application, clarifying that he would not entertain further arguments.

Throughout the cross-examination, Habba faced interruptions from Kaplan, particularly when she attempted to read from a document that had not been formally entered into evidence. Frustrated by Habba’s lack of understanding of court procedures, Judge Kaplan sent the trial into a recess and advised the lawyer to refresh her memory on properly introducing a document into evidence.

One notable exchange occurred when Habba questioned Carroll about whether she had deleted any emailed threats after receiving a subpoena. Habba requested a mistrial, arguing that the jury had been exposed to “deleted evidence.” However, Judge Kaplan promptly denied the request and instructed the jury to disregard Habba’s statement.

An analysis by Business Insider revealed that Judge Kaplan had clashed with Habba about 14 times during the trial. This clash raised concerns among legal experts, with some questioning Habba’s competence as a trial lawyer. Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wondered if Habba had ever tried a case. At the same time, Georgia State University law professor Anthony Michael Kreis criticized her lack of knowledge about the rules of evidence.

Habba’s performance was not well-received by the jury. Former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega warned that her approach might have turned the jury against her. Given that the jury determines the damages, it would have been wiser for Habba to adopt a more charming demeanor.

Former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb also expressed disappointment in Habba’s performance, describing it as a “minor league job.” He acknowledged Judge Kaplan’s patience with Habba but noted that witnessing her struggle in the courtroom was embarrassing.

Habba’s involvement in the trial came after attorney Joe Tacopina withdrew as Trump’s counsel. Another former federal prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, pointed out that Habba had stepped into a more significant role than she had anticipated. However, Weissmann raised concerns about Habba’s lack of familiarity with the rules of evidence, emphasizing that it was a critical aspect of the trial.

Legal analyst Katie Phang echoed these concerns, stating that Habba lacked the necessary trial skills to defend a former president in a high-stakes defamation trial. Phang highlighted Habba’s inability to enter evidence and impeach a witness as examples of incompetence.