A Washington, DC, appeals court has set oral arguments for January 2023 in the defamation case against former President Donald Trump, saying a decision on the outcome of former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll’s claims will not come until next year.
Last month, a federal appeals court in New York asked the D.C. court to inquire into a specific legal question that weighs on the future of the case.
In a brief order Tuesday, the D.C. appeals court said it would expedite the appeal and have a full panel of judges hear the arguments, instead of the usual three judges. The court scheduled oral arguments for Jan. 10, less than a month before the case goes to trial in New York.
Carroll sued Trump for defamation when he denied allegations that he raped her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s, said he was not her “type” and said she staged the attack to boost sales of her book. But the case has languished in the court system since it was first filed in 2019.
Earlier this month, Trump and Carroll both sat down for arraignments after U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is overseeing the case, rejected Trump’s effort to stop the testimony while they waited for the D.C. appeals court to weigh in. Kaplan scheduled the trial. February 2023.
The current legal issue comes after Trump and the Justice Department argued that the Justice Department should be substituted for the defendant because Trump was a federal employee and his statements denying Carroll’s allegations were made in response to questions from reporters while at the White House. The federal government cannot be sued for defamation, so a ruling in their favor would end the case.
Kaplan ruled against Trump and the DOJ. They appealed. Last month a federal appeals court in New York ruled that Trump was a federal employee when he denied raping and sexually assaulting Carroll.
However, the New York Court of Appeals asked the DC Court of Appeals to determine whether Trump was acting within the scope of his employment when he made the allegedly defamatory statements.
If the D.C. court rules in Trump’s favor, the Justice Department would be named as a defendant and the case would be dismissed.
Robbie Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney, said, “We are pleased that the D.C. Court of Appeals has set an expedited schedule to determine the issue certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. As we have said many times before, we are eager to reach trial on all of E. Jean’s claims as soon as possible.”
A lawyer for Trump, Alina Habba, could not be reached for comment.