A loose legal Cannon

Judges are the weakest link in our system of justice, and they are also the most protected. —Alan Dershowitz

Aloose legal cannon presides in the Southern District of Florida over a federal espionage case dealing with the removal of national security-related and classified documents which when sought for return and official archive storage were denied: denied they were present, denied they were anything but the personal property of a President who had just failed his re-election bid.

No need to recount here the current plethora of Trump criminal and civil cases — some tried, some with guilty verdicts — many pending. Here of interest is the peculiar, perplexing and perfidious behaviors of the US vs Trump espionage case’s presiding official Judge Aileen Cannon and her legal processes deterring public access to evidence, facts, the behaviors of a Presidential candidate. From a former President proclaiming innocence of all indictments, let’s hear it — Judge Cannon ought help Trump refute false claims if they are false– in her court.

Nominated by Trump in May of 2020, at 40 with scant trial experience, Cannon was appointed in November just days after Trump’s 2020 re-election failure with a 56-21 Senate Confirmation — 22 not voting. In 2018, Dan McGahn, then White House Counsel, boasted of the Administration’s rigorous judicial nominee interview process “… the President (is) nominating ... people who have some experience, if not expertise, in dealing with government…” However, Judge Cannon’s trial experience and lack of law expertise has been lambasted by judges and law professionals across ages, partisan alignments, and institutional positions as scant — wanting. She is deemed as possessing — by evidence of her repeat behaviors — little knowledge of the legal landscape related to national security/confidential documents and the Espionage Act along with an unceasing proneness to questionable judgements, requests, and non-rulings. Her legal and trial shortcomings have resulted in her being overturned and reprimanded by the 11th Circuit Appeals Court twice in the past year.

Cannon has recently indicated, in her briefs and calls for prosecutor and defense response, that for her a civil statute — Presidential Records Act — trumps the criminal statute Espionage Act under which the document case criminal indictments are set.

She has delayed clear pretrial rulings, clear so say key legal experts, and more alarmingly perhaps is positioning the case for her dismissal after a Jury is sworn in — precluding an appeal — if and when a date for trial is set and commenced. In Cannon’s legal career, criminal trial law was not her focus, rather she concentrated early on appeals — the appellate system — is this where her expertise lies- when, where and how to progress or block an appeal?

Cannon was “randomly” assigned THE federal espionage case of the nation’s history with the former President as plaintiff, the “luck of the draw.” Amazingly, formal qualifications for federal judges, are almost none — no age requirement, no minimal

experience — not even a requirement for legal training. Any one confirmed by the Senate as a District Judge has Article III protections of life tenure and non-reducible salaries. A District Judge is removable only by Congressional impeachment. So, liken to SCOTUS, big questions about our Judiciary: what qualifications drive judicial confirmation, what assures sustained ethical and legal behavior of Judges, and how are these positions of such powerful impact restricted in tenure and accountable for behavior? Time to do something.

The bedrock of our democracy is the rule of law and that means we have to have an independent judiciary, judges who can make decisions independent of the political winds that are blowing. — Caroline Kennedy


Kathy Herald-Marlowe lives in Sharon.

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