MANHATTAN (CN) – After a federal judge found that President Donald Trump is not immune from defamation claims by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, a New York appeals court ruled Thursday that the case should advance to discovery.
The one-paragraph order from the First Department of the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division offers little detail but says simply that Trump is not entitled to a stay.
Zervos brought the suit here last year, claiming that Trump defamed her when he said that the multiple unwanted sexual advances by Trump that she recounted were a “hoax.”
Back in March, Judge Jennifer Schechter with the Manhattan Supreme Court shut down Trump’s bid to avoid suit by claiming immunity.
“It is settled that the president of the United States has no immunity and is ‘subject to the laws’ for purely private acts,” Schechter wrote.
Trump’s attorneys at Kasowitz Benson Torres in turn sought a stay of the case, insisting that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the president’s Article II responsibilities protect him from prosecution.
Justices John Sweeny Jr., Justices Dianne Renwick, Angela Mazzarelli, Ellen Gesmer, Anil Singh rejected the motion this morning.
“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 unsigned order states.
Kasowitz Benson attorney Paul Burgo labeled the result “incorrect.”
“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,” Burgo said in a statement.
While Schecter’s 19-page opinion relied heavily on a 1997 ruling where the Supreme Court upheld a defamation suit against then-President Bill Clinton, Burgo said the constitutional issues that the Zervos case implicates are unresolved.
“It is also completely and unjustifiably contrary to the stays the courts uniformly granted when deciding whether a lawsuit against President Clinton could proceed in federal court,” Burgo added.
Zervos filed her case initially with celebrity attorney Gloria Allred but tapped Mariann Meier Wang with the firm Cuti Hecker Wang after hurdling the immunity motion back in March.
“We look forward to proving Ms. Zervos’s claim that defendant lied when he maliciously attacked her for reporting his sexually abusive behavior,” Wang said in a statement.
The next hearing in the case will be June 5.