How Judge Cannon Could Use A ‘Directed Verdict’ To Acquit Trump In Documents Case
The defense team representing Donald Trump in the classified documents case may have found a way to achieve indisputable victory if a motion for a verdict of acquittal is granted during the right stage of the trial.
The former president is being charged with mishandling national defense information, withholding the documents throughout the Justice Department’s investigation and making false statements in an attempt to obstruct justice. He was indicted on Thursday on 37 counts and made his first court appearance in Miami last week.
If permitted, an intervention under Rule 29, better known as a directed verdict, allows a federal judge to dismiss a criminal case if they don’t believe the evidence presented was sufficient to determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt after the prosecution rests,
Due to reasons of double jeopardy, a dismissal of a case under Rule 29 is unappealable. However, if it were to occur after a jury reaches a verdict, then prosecutors could appeal the decision.
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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon of South Florida was randomly appointed to Trump’s case. She was nominated under Trump and reviewed the case in its early stages.
Several of her orders were reversed by a federal appeals court which determined that she did not have the jurisdiction to appoint a special master for the documents that were seized from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
Many believe that she should recuse herself from the trial before it further tarnishes her reputation and defines her career.
If she chooses to stay in the case, however, she will hold great power in determining the outcome. Aside from employing Rule 29, she could make a number of moves to prolong the trial or sway the jury.
Cannon could set the trial date for after the 2024 presidential election, for which Trump is still a candidate. She could overrule the prosecution’s objections and sustain the defense’s, regardless of their merit. She could stack the jury with Trump supporters and exclude evidence that would be especially incriminating.
While there is no indication that she will tamper with the case, these are all possibilities that legal experts are worried about given her past decisions.
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