Experts Worry That Judge Aileen Cannon Is Not Suited To Handle Trump’s Case
Federal District Court judge Aileen Cannon has been randomly assigned to preside over the case of Donald Trump’s mishandling of classified documents. But experts are questioning her competence and ability in handling such historic legal proceedings.
Trump is the first former president to ever face criminal charges. He appointed Cannon in 2020, right after he lost the election to President Joe Biden. She had no previous experience as a judge and formerly worked on appellate cases as an assistant United States attorney in Florida.
Under the Southern District of Florida’s practices, a computer in the clerk’s office assigned cases to judges who sit in the division where the matter occurred. Five active judges were eligible to take on the case, but Cannon was chosen at random.
According to a Bloomberg Law database, Cannon has been assigned 224 criminal cases since 2020. Only four of those cases, though, actually went to trial. She has dealt with basic charges, such as possession of a gun and tax fraud. Many fear that her experiences do not qualify her to take on Trump’s case.
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Cannon will be faced with many challenging decisions throughout the litigations. Conflict will arise concerning what evidence is permissible in court since the files that Trump took contain highly classified national security information. She will presumably be asked by defense lawyers to suppress evidence and testimony against Trump and will have to make calls about the biases of jurors on the case.
The young judge is already facing scrutiny about her loyalties to Trump. Aside from being appointed by him, Cannon sided with Trump at an earlier stage of the documents case. She suggested that, as a former president, he should get special protections that other targets of search warrants would not need. This motion was reversed by a conservative appellate court that ruled she did not have the authority to make this decision.
According to a federal law stating that judges are supposed to recuse themselves if their “impartiality might be reasonably questioned,” Special Counsel Jack Smith could ask Cannon to step back from the trial. If she were to decline to recuse herself, an appeals court could order her to do so.
However, there is no indication that Smith will ask her to recuse herself, nor that she will step back on her own. Many are still hesitant about her ability to rule fairly and remain professional throughout the trial.
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