"This is a horror show": Ex-judge warns Trump lawyer is "playing with fire" by irking Judge Kaplan

Trump attorney Alina Habba has faced her fair share of reprimand from the federal judge overseeing the former president’s second defamation trial from writer E. Jean Carroll, earning 14 scoldings from the judge in just one day of court last week after making simple mistakes during the proceedings. But U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan has actually exercised restraint in his admonishment of Habba, a former federal judge told Business Insider.

“I think Kaplan is being really measured under the circumstances in his reactions to both Trump and Habba,” said John Jones, who served as a U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for more than 20 years.

Kaplan “was really careful about not overreacting, and I don’t think he overreacted to Habba either,” Jones continued. “I think he’s trying to send her signals, which is what a good judge does, about how to try her case and what to do, and she’s just blowing past those signals.”

Jones added that Habba’s behavior in the courtroom is playing to Trump’s goal of making the proceedings chaotic.

“It’s an unprofessional and bad look,” Jones told the outlet. “But I think Habba doesn’t care about any of that. What she cares about is making Trump happy.”

That tactic, however, is likely to backfire, Jones argued, saying that Habba is “playing with fire” by prioritizing pleasing her client over respecting the judge.

“The inescapable conclusion the jury members get is that she’s run afoul the judge and that she’s doing something wrong,” Jones told Business Insider, adding that Habba not only lacks “a strategy and a clear defense, rather than to just be disruptive in court, but she’s got an impossible situation with her client. So I mean, this is a horror show from a defensive standpoint.”

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