Saturday, 23 Sep 2023

Why didnt you scream?: Trump lawyer takes hostile approach to rape trial

Why didnt you scream?: Trump lawyer takes hostile approach to rape trial


Why didnt you scream?: Trump lawyer takes hostile approach to rape trial

Donald Trump had good reason to believe he found the man to get him off the hook. Joseph Tacopina, a Brooklyn-born former prosecutor, made his name winning freedom for accused killers, rapists and celebrities.

Twelve years ago, he successfully defended an on-duty police officer charged with escorting a drunk woman to her home and then raping her. He won an acquittal for one of the New York cops accused of the notorious beating and sodomising of a Haitian American, Abner Louima, while others involved went to prison.

Perhaps most notoriously Tacopina was able to extract Joran van der Sloot from jail in Aruba where he was accused of murdering a teenage American tourist, Natalee Holloway. Van der Sloot went on to murder another woman in Peru.

As a law student, Tacopina even worked on the team representing the mafia boss John Gotti, although he has since sworn off acting for the mob in part because it extorted protection money from the family's store. Tacopina maintains the link with his roots as the owner and chair of an Italian league football club, Spal. He also has a stake in a top-flight team, Roma, and previously served on its board.

Whether Tacopina has been as effective in defending Trump as some of his other clients will be decided next week by the New York jury hearing the advice columnist E Jean Carroll's civil claim that the former president raped her in 1996. She is also seeking damages for defamation after the former president called her a liar and claimed her accusation was politically motivated.

But Tacopina's approach has raised more than a few eyebrows in the legal community and left some spectators in court aghast at outdated tactics that look to have bolstered Carroll's case. The judge, Lewis Kaplan, has certainly done little to hide his irritation at Tacopina at times, including over convoluted questions eliciting confusing answers.

The jury may yet hand Tacopina, and Trump, the last laugh. But it remains to be seen if the former public defender and prosecutor has persuaded its six men and three women of the claims he made in his opening statement.

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