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Aileen Cannon saga takes an embarrassing new turn


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The bias of Judge Aileen Cannon in the Trump espionage case cannot be clearer. She has indefinitely postponed the trial, claiming complicated pre-trial motions need to be reviewed, which technically should have nothing to do with her. As a former federal court employee, I’m familiar with the process. When a new case comes into the Court, it is assigned to both a district judge and a magistrate judge. All pre-trial matters are handled by the magistrate judge. That means that Cannon shouldn’t even be reviewing the motions for which she is holding up a trial date. In this case, the magistrate judge assigned is Bruce E. Reinhart. He is the magistrate judge who signed the FBI warrant to search Trump’s property, which makes him already familiar with the case-more familiar than Cannon. He, not Cannon, should be reviewing and ruling on those pretrial motions. This is yet another way that Cannon is favoring Trump, and it appears that was her plan all along.

As NYT reported, two south Florida federal judges encouraged Cannon to pass on the case when it was assigned. One of those judges is the chief judge in the Southern District of Florida, Cecilia M. Altonaga. They knew this case would be complex, and they also knew that Cannon had very little experience. Trump appointed her in the closing days of his presidency, after he had already lost the election. Perhaps he knew he would need her down the road. She has no judicial experience and has overseen only four (routine) criminal trials for a total of 14 days. Why Cannon thinks she’s qualified to oversee this trial is a mystery. One cannot help but believe that she took it to help Trump out. Indeed, Trump’s lawyers have urged Cannon to delay the trial until after the election, and she appears to be doing just that.

Lawyers who operate in the district are scratching their heads at Cannon handling pre-trial motions. That is just not the way cases are typically handled in federal court. Besides, Judge Reinhart has much more experience than Cannon and could likely rule on those motions much faster. How can you not think Cannon is up to something? Most district judges love having preliminary matters handled by a magistrate; that’s the very reason they have magistrate judges, but Cannon cares about none of that, just as the advice given to her by more experienced judges had no impact on her. She would rather spend taxpayer dollars building a secure room than hand the case over to the Miami Division, which already has such a room and is the court in which the jury sat that handed down the indictment. All that apparently had no impact on Cannon’s decision.

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We need judges sitting on the federal bench who adhere to the law, follow protocols, and have experience with trials. After all, their main function is to oversee trials. This is not an on-the-job training situation. We need jurists who are fair, knowledgeable, and care about everyone, not just the ones who gave them a lifetime job at 42.

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