Trump-classified documents are the target of many complaints

Aileen M. Cannon, United States District Judge, Southern District of Florida

Courtesy: US Courts

The federal judge in Florida overseeing the case against former President Donald Trump has been targeted more than a thousand complaints in just one week this month making accusations about her handling of the case, a highest court of appeal judge revealed in an order.

The complaints against Judge Aileen Cannon have come to light amid renewed criticism from some legal observers and Trump opponents that she is moving slowly on the criminal case against the former president to ensure it does not go to trial before the presidential election.

“Many of the complaints” against Cannon, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, “request that the Chief Circuit Judge remove her from the confidential documents case and reassign the case to another judge,” chief judge said. William Pryor wrote in a May 22 order posted on the appeals court website.

And “many of the complaints against Judge Cannon also question the accuracy of her rulings or her delays in issuing rulings in the case,” Pryor wrote.

The complaints filed since May 16 “appear to be part of an orchestrated campaign,” said Pryor, whose appeals court reviews cases arising from federal district courts in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.

Cannon's public critics have noted that she has delayed in ruling on multiple pending motions, in granting Trump's lawyers hearings on legal issues that could otherwise be easily addressed through court filings, and in criticizing filings by Special Prosecutor Jack Smith's prosecutors.

Trump, who appointed Cannon to the bench, is accused in the case of crimes related to withholding classified government documents from his Mar-a-Lago club residence in Palm Beach, Florida, after he left the White House and tried to hide it from them. officials seeking their reinstatement.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who has pleaded not guilty in that case, was convicted Thursday by a New York state court jury of 34 crimes in connection with a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Pryor wrote in his May 22 order on the complaints that he “considered and dismissed four of those orchestrated complaints as merit-related and as based on allegations lacking sufficient evidence to support a conclusion of misconduct.”

He also wrote that neither he nor the appellate court's Judicial Council has the authority to remove Cannon from the case under the Rules for Judicial-Conduct and Judicial-Disability Proceedings.

“While many of the complaints allege an improper motive to delay the case, the allegations are speculative and not supported by any evidence,” Pryor wrote.

“The complaints also do not show that Judge Cannon had to recuse herself from the case because she was appointed by then-President Trump.”

The chief judge also wrote that before May 16, “multiple complaints of judicial misconduct or disability” had been filed against Cannon, who sits in federal court in Fort Pierce, Florida, and “raised allegations in connection” with Trump's criminal case.

“Some of those complaints have been acted upon, and others will be acted upon in due course,” Pryor wrote, without disclosing the nature of those actions.

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Pryor said he has recommended that the Judicial Council direct the clerk of the court of appeals not to accept complaints against Cannon received after May 16 “to the extent they are similar to previously filed complaints.” According to the decision, the council followed this advice.

Pryor also wrote that while the judicial grievance process “is not the appropriate means of seeking review of Judge Cannon's orders, her orders are nevertheless normally subject to appellate review.”

CNBC has reached out to Cannon for comment through the office of the chief judge of the U.S. Southern District Court of Florida.

Glenn Kirschner, a lawyer and former federal prosecutor, about his podcast Justice Matters earlier this week there was an episode about Cannon titled “Judge Aileen Cannon brings Trump's classified documents/obstruction/espionage case to a standstill.”

The episode description on Apple Podcasts states: “Trump-appointed Judge Aileen Cannon should not be in charge of Trump's federal prosecution in Florida.”

“She has brought the case to a screeching halt by refusing to resolve motions in a timely manner and refusing to even set a trial date. Judge Cannon is NOT an honest arbiter of the law, and federal law requires that a judge be removed when his/her “could reasonably be questioned impartially.” “

The episode links to a YouTube video in which Kirschner explains how to file a complaint against Cannon by sending one to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“A lot of people took advantage of that step-by-step video and filed those court complaint forms,” Kirschner said on the podcast.

CNBC has reached out to Kirschner for comment on Pryor's order.

Pryor was part of a three-judge panel of the appeals court that issued a scathing ruling in December 2022, overturning Cannon's appointment of an outside watchdog to determine whether documents collected by FBI agents at Mar-a-Lago had been seized could be used in the ongoing criminal investigation into Trump.

“This appeal requires us to consider whether the district court had jurisdiction to prevent the United States from using lawfully seized documents in a criminal investigation,” the panel wrote. “The answer is no.”

“The law is clear. “We cannot write a rule that would allow a subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant,” the panel wrote. “Nor can we write a rule that only allows former presidents to do this.”

“The court unlawfully exercised equal jurisdiction in this case.”

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