Cannon Rejected Entreaties by Colleagues to Skip Trump Case

Chief judge suggested rulings before the indictment made for a bad look
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2024 7:00 PM CDT
Cannon Rejected Entreaties by Colleagues to Skip Trump Case
The Alto Lee Adams Sr. Courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

US District Judge Aileen Cannon, who's presiding over Donald Trump's classified documents case in Florida, has few restraints on her. As a judge nominated by the president—who's the defendant—and confirmed by the Senate, she enjoys the independence of life tenure despite having little trial experience. So when she received the assignment, and two more veteran judges tried to get her to turn it over to a colleague, she was able to tell them no. It turned out that Cannon, whose rulings have drawn widespread criticism and reversals from above before the trial has even begun, wanted to take Trump's case, the New York Times reports.

Two judges made the suggestion, including Cecilia Altonaga, chief judge in the Southern District of Florida. In a phone call, Altonaga argued that Cannon handling the case would look bad because of her decisions during the criminal investigation before Trump was indicted on charges of illegally retaining national security documents after leaving office and obstructing efforts to retrieve them. Cannon intervened to take a lawsuit Trump filed over the accusations that usually would have gone to another judge. She prohibited investigators from gaining access to the evidence and appointed a special master to review the documents, while saying she'd make the final decisions.

That's not the way targets of federal search warrants usually are treated, per the Times. The appeals court tossed the special master and said she exceeded her authority. Overall, Cannon has managed the case to a near standstill, per CNN, making it nearly impossible that the trial wil be held before the November election. Lawyers who have had cases in Cannon's court say she regularly struggles with docket management, so that pretrial issues that other judges decide in weeks linger unresolved for months.

  • CNBC looks at the way Cannon schedules hearing after hearing instead of moving on the case here.
(More Aileen Cannon stories.)

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