New York court refuses to halt 'Apprentice' contestant's defamat - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

New York court refuses to halt 'Apprentice' contestant's defamation suit against Trump

Posted: Updated: May 17, 2018 3:27 PM
This combination photo shows President Trump, left, listening  during a 2017 White House meeting on health care and Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice" appearsing at a 2016 Los Angeles news conference where she said accused Trump of mak This combination photo shows President Trump, left, listening during a 2017 White House meeting on health care and Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice" appearsing at a 2016 Los Angeles news conference where she said accused Trump of mak

A New York appeals court said Thursday that President Trump could not halt a defamation lawsuit filed against him by a former Apprentice contestant.

The president's lawyers sought to stay the case while they worked on an appeal of a judge's ruling earlier this year that the lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos could proceed.

Trump's attorneys argued that allowing the case to move forward could interfere with Trump's duties as president. Additionally, they said the suit was filed in state court, so Trump should not have to respond.

The judges did not agree.

"Upon reading and filing the papers with respect to the motion, and due deliberation having been had thereon, it is ordered that the motion is denied," the order from the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court read.

The motion means that discovery, or the gathering of evidence, can continue in the case.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Zervos, who appeared on Season 5 of The Apprentice, came forward with allegations that Trump had forcibly kissed and groped her in 2007.

After Trump said the allegations were false on the campaign trail and on social media, she said she received threats. Zervos later filed a defamation lawsuit three days before Trump's inauguration.

"We look forward to proving Ms. Zervos's claim that defendant lied when he maliciously attacked her for reporting his sexually abusive behavior," Zervos's attorney, Mariann Wang, said in an email.

Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz called the court's decision incorrect, arguing that the case raised the constitutional issue of whether a state court lawsuit could be brought against the president of the United States during his term in office.

"There is no valid reason in this case - in which plaintiff is seeking merely $3,000 in damages, and which plaintiff's counsel has repeatedly insisted was brought for political purposes - for the Court not to grant the requested stay in order to take the time to first decide the threshold Constitutional issue that is at stake," Kasowitz said in an email.

Earlier this year, in response to Trump's lawyers requesting that the case be dismissed, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter said, "No one is above the law."

Schecter cited Clinton v. Jones, a case that found that a sitting president wasn't immune to being sued in federal court for unofficial acts. That case opened the door for President Clinton's impeachment.

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