“It’s a brilliant maneuver, particularly with a judge who had so little trial background” Special Counsel Challenges Judge Cannon’s Consistency in Trump’s Legal Battle


In a recent development in the legal proceedings against former President Donald Trump, Special Counsel Jack Smith has pointed out a potential inconsistency in U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s handling of Trump’s case compared to her approach in a past legal matter.

Trump’s defense team has been pushing for the Department of Justice to release an additional tranche of documents beyond the already substantial 1.3 million pages provided, arguing that the Mar-a-Lago documents case represents a case of “selective prosecution.” However, Smith’s team has brought to Cannon’s attention her previous involvement in a case that curtailed similar broad requests, which were deemed as attempts to delay the trial.

This previous case, which Cannon was part of as a federal prosecutor in South Florida, involved a 2015 sting operation leading to the arrest of two men planning a heist on a fictitious stash house. Armed and caught in the act, one of the defendants later contended that he was a victim of “selective prosecution,” targeting Black and Hispanic individuals, reported The Daily Beast.

“She worked on almost no cases. She had very little courtroom experience. To find a case that she worked on and that resulted in a published opinion is in itself improbable,” Ross said. “It’s a brilliant maneuver, particularly with a judge who had so little trial background.”

This appeal was ultimately dismissed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which highlighted the substantial burden of proof required for such a claim, a precedent that Smith’s team suggests should also apply to Trump’s case. Catherine Ross, a professor emeritus at George Washington University Law School, noted the rarity of successfully arguing selective prosecution and suggested that Smith’s strategic reminder places Judge Cannon in a challenging position, given her limited courtroom experience and the notable lack of cases she worked on that resulted in published opinions.

Smith’s approach has been perceived as a tactful reminder to Judge Cannon of her past legal positions, especially in light of her frequent rulings in Trump’s favor, which have included decisions to delay proceedings. These actions have attracted criticism, including from the 11th Circuit.

Legal experts, including Robert A. Sanders, a retired Navy JAG captain and current law professor at the University of New Haven, commend Smith’s strategy as astute lawyering. Sanders interprets this move as a subtle reminder to Cannon of her previous legal stances and the potential implications of her decisions in Trump’s ongoing legal saga. This situation underscores the intricate dynamics at play in high-profile legal battles and the importance of judicial consistency and precedent.

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