Judge Cannon agrees to block witness names in classified documents case

by | Apr 10, 2024

Southern District of Florida

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen M. Cannon, on Tuesday, agreed to resolve a protracted disagreement with prosecutors concerning the public identification of government-agent witnesses in President Trump’s trial involving classified documents.

For months, Special Counsel Jack Smith has made attempts to persuade Cannon to maintain the confidentiality of FBI agents, Secret Service agents, and other potential witnesses involved in the case.

Initially, Cannon had ruled against Smith's request. However, on Tuesday, she changed her stance, indicating her willingness to keep the names and identifying details under seal.

While this decision didn't represent a complete victory for Smith, the judge also ruled that the content of the witness statements could be disclosed in filings, provided that the material did not reveal the identities of the witnesses or others mentioned.

Cannon directed Smith to provide an index using generic substitute terms, such as “FBI Agent 1,” for individuals mentioned in the court filings. Additionally, she criticized Smith for what she deemed as weak legal arguments initially but acknowledged his improved reasoning in subsequent efforts to justify keeping the names confidential.

The matter of redactions in court filings, especially in exhibits attached to pre-trial defense motions filed in the case, has persisted since January. It has added complexity to other legal disputes that must be resolved before the trial commences.

Last week, Cannon rejected Trump’s attempt to dismiss the charges, arguing that the Presidential Records Act did not prevent his prosecution. This decision followed Smith's urging for a swift resolution, expressing concerns about a potentially erroneous legal theory that might require prompt appeal to a higher court.

Although Cannon dismissed Trump's defense motion, she criticized Smith's critique of her legal analysis as “unprecedented and unjust.”

As of now, the judge has yet to set a trial date for the high-profile case or address several pre-trial legal matters. Prosecutors have proposed starting the trial in early July, while Trump's legal team contends it should not commence before August.

Source: The Washington Post



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