Trump lawyer tries to bypass judge’s anonymous jury ruling — and get access to juror identities

“Tacopina is the Chumbawumba of NY lawyers,” says analyst Lisa Rubin. "He gets knocked down, and he gets up again"

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published April 18, 2023 10:45AM (EDT)

Lawyer of former US president Donald Trump, Joe Tacopina speaks to the press outside the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on April 4, 2023 after Trump's hearing. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Lawyer of former US president Donald Trump, Joe Tacopina speaks to the press outside the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on April 4, 2023 after Trump's hearing. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump attorney Joe Tacopina sought to gain access to the jury room after the judge overseeing E. Jean Carroll's civil rape and defamation trial against former President Donald Trump ruled that the jury would be anonymous over the risk of harassment and retaliation.

Tacopina on Friday spoke out against U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan's decision to keep juror identities anonymous over concerns about the risk to their privacy and safety.

Kaplan last month "said the need for juror anonymity reflected the 'unprecedented circumstances in which this trial will take place, including the extensive pretrial publicity and a very strong risk that jurors will fear harassment, unwanted invasions of their privacy, and retaliation,'" according to Reuters.

Tacopina previously sought the judge's permission to access juror identities in a letter to Kaplan last week. "Team Trump is also asking Judge Kaplan to use a juror questionnaire and reconsider his ruling that not even the attorneys can know the names of potential jurors," wrote MSNBC analyst Lisa Rubin.

On Monday, Tacopina sent another letter to Kaplan urging him to reconsider the ruling and pushing to be "involved at all stages of the jury selection process."

"While [we] understand that the Court has discretion over how to conduct jury selection in a civil case, we submit that counsel should be involved at all stages of the jury selection process (even in the Jury Assembly Room)," the letter says. "We also submit that counsel should have input into the Court's description of the case as well as into the questions asked of potential jurors in the Jury Assembly Room. Rule 47 makes it clear that the parties and their counsel have that right, and further, a more robust jury selection process in this case will serve the interests of justice. We would note that, in this regard, we already have submitted to the Court proposed voir dire questions to be asked, which have yet to be ruled upon. However, for present purposes we do wish to inquire further as to the Court's planned process."

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Rubin called Tacopina the "Chumbawumba of New York lawyers," in an apparent reference to the band's song "Tubthumping."

 "He gets knocked down, and he gets up again," she wrote in a Monday tweet. "He just filed a letter asking for clarification on the jury selection process in the Carroll trial--& insisting on his right to be in the rooms where it happens."

Tacopina has seen a flurry of media attention in recent months related to Trump's legal troubles. In a separate letter, he and fellow Trump attorney Alina Habba requested last week that Judge Kaplan delay the rape trial proceedings for four weeks, citing the "deluge of prejudicial media coverage concerning his unprecedented criminal indictment and arraignment in Manhattan." Kaplan rejected the request on Monday, partly faulting Trump for the media frenzy around his arrest.

Last month, ahead of Trump's formal charging of 34 felony counts related to the falsification of business records, Tacopina drew criticism when he lunged to snatch documents from MSNBC host Ari Melber during a heated interview. 

Tacopina has also been at the center of reported infighting among Trump's legal team, with other MAGA lawyers reportedly calling him "dumb," "a loudmouth," and "such a frickin' idiot."

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate Donald Trump E Jean Carroll Joe Tacopina Lewis Kaplan Politics