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Legal Scholars Alarmed As Judge Rejects Bid To Keep Trump Case Witnesses Secret : “Awful And Unethical”

Legal experts are expressing concerns after a judge overseeing Donald Trump’s classified documents case rejected special counsel Jack Smith’s attempt to keep government witnesses confidential.
The decision, made by Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, has sparked debates about transparency and fairness in the legal process.

Smith’s Bid Rejected

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Special counsel Jack Smith sought to prevent the disclosure of information that could expose the identity or personal details of potential witnesses, citing concerns about witness intimidation.
However, Judge Aileen Cannon ruled against Smith’s request, emphasizing the importance of public access to the records involved in the case.

Questioning the Concerns

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Judge Cannon questioned the adequacy of Smith’s arguments, stating that the provided response lacked sufficient factual basis to justify sealing the documents.
This decision has raised questions about the judge’s approach to the case, with some legal experts expressing apprehension about potential biases.

Public Interest Argument

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The Press Coalition, representing major media companies, urged the court to unseal Trump’s redacted motion in unclassified form, citing public interest.
This highlights the broader significance of the case and the public’s right to access information pertinent to it.

Legal Expert’s Perspective

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Jeremy Foley, a Berkeley College law professor specializing in judicial ethics, told Newsweek that it was “unusual for a judge to make classified documents public.”

Factors Favoring Disclosure Should Have Been Weighed

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He added, “Before doing so, Judge Cannon was required to weigh the factors favoring disclosure: potential aid to the defense and the public interest argument asserted by the media groups against those identified by the government: release of the documents could harm national security, impair an ongoing investigation, or compromise potential witnesses in the case,” he said.

Emergency Relief Can Be Sought

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Foley also emphasized that “If the government is concerned that the judge’s order will cause harm, it can seek emergency relief from the 11th Circuit, which could stay the order pending review.”

Concerns Over Judicial Neutrality

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Legal experts, including former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, have voiced concerns about Judge Cannon’s rulings, suggesting a pattern that appears to favor Trump.
Vance emphasized the importance of maintaining judicial impartiality and criticized what she sees as deviations from legal norms.

Potential Strategies

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With the next hearing approaching, Smith’s options for addressing the situation remain uncertain.
While seeking reconsideration from Judge Cannon is one avenue, there are doubts about the effectiveness of this approach given the judge’s previous stance.

Section 4 Hearing

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The upcoming Section 4 hearing under the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) will be a critical juncture in the case.
Trump’s expected requests for delays and revisiting claims related to presidential immunity will test the judge’s disposition and further shape the trajectory of the proceedings.

Tipping The Scales

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Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance wrote on Substack that “Judge Aileen Cannon continues to make rulings that are disturbing.”
She added, “Judges should not put their fingers on the scales of justice either for or against a defendant or any other party.

Here, it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that the scales are being tipped.”

Hope for Removal

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Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe expressed hope that Tuesday’s order might prompt a motion to remove Judge Cannon from the case.

He posted on X that he hopes Tuesday’s order “will trigger a motion to remove her.”

“The 11th Circuit might well agree that this was the last straw. Compromising national security is a bridge too far,” he tweeted.

Criticism of Judge Cannon

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Norman Ornstein, emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, criticized Judge Cannon’s conduct, describing it as “awful and unethical.”
He added, “Clearly has no business being a judge at any level.”

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Malik is a skilled writer with a passion for news and current events. With their keen eye for detail, they provide insightful perspectives on the latest happenings. Stay informed and engaged!