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Verdicts & Settlements

Federal Judge Dismisses Trump’s Lawsuit Challenging Mar-a-Lago Raid

— December 13, 2022

Federal Judge Aileen Cannon dismissed the lawsuit after a higher federal appeals court strongly condemned her initial decision to grant Trump’s request for a special master.

A federal judge has formally dismissed Donald Trump’s lawsuit against the Department of Justice, in which the former president challenged the federal government’s right to seize and access classified documents stored in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

According to The Miami Herald, the lawsuit was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Monday.

Cannon had previously been rebuked by a federal appellate court for allowing Trump’s lawsuit to proceed.

“This case is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction,” Cannon wrote in her order, issued shortly after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals instructed her to dismiss the former president’s complaint. “The Clerk of Court shall close this case.”

The Miami Herald reports that the Atlatan-based 11th Circuit had, at the beginning of this month, determined that Cannon did not have the authority to approve former President Donald Trump’s request for a special master.

A special master, or independent expert, would have reviewed the materials seized from Mar-a-Lago and determined which documents could be shared with the F.B.I. and other federal law enforcement agencies.

Trump in front of American flag. Image via Flickr/user:thejointstaff. (CCA-BY-2.0).

In its decision, the three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit authored a 21-page opinion condemning Trump’s legal arguments as a “sideshow.”

The judges—Chief Judge William H. Pryor, Britt Grant, and Andrew L. Brasher—opined that Trump’s attorneys had failed to submit any evidence indicating that F.B.I. agents showed a “callous disregard” for the former’s president’s constitutional rights.

The “callous disregard” standard necessary for the appointment of a special master, the judges wrote, “has not been met here, and no one argues otherwise.”

“There is no record evidence that the government exceeded the scope of the warrant — which, it bears repeating, was authorized by a magistrate judge’s finding of probable cause,” the three-judge panel wrote. “And yet again, [former President Trump’s] argument would apply universally; presumably any subject of a search warrant would like all of his property back before the government has a chance to use it.”

Cannon, notes the Miami Herald, had actually agreed with the Department of Justice’s arguments that Trump would not ordinarily be entitled to a special master.

However, Cannon nevertheless granted the request, opining that the “unprecedented circumstances” of the United States government raiding a former president’s home warranted additional consideration and the extension of extraordinary privileges.

In their ruling, the appellate court stated that—no matter how unusual the circumstances may be—the federal judiciary cannot overturn or neglect well-established law to accommodate Trump.

“The law is clear. We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so,” the judges found.


Florida judge officially dumps Trump lawsuit over Mar-a-Lago document seizure

Judge dismisses Trump’s case challenging Mar-a-Lago document seizure after appeals court ends special master review

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