U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, rejected a request by prosecutors to deny defense attorneys access to classified documents in the case against former President Donald Trump’s co-defendants.
Cannon criticized the prosecutors’ interpretation of the law as “broad and unconvincing.”
The judge ruled that the defendants’ attorneys should have the opportunity to review the documents, although the prosecutors can make a case to restrict access on a document-by-document basis.
Cannon pressed that their request would restrict the defense attorneys “almost entirely from reviewing classified discovery to be produced in the case, and then placing the burden to justify otherwise on defense counsel.”
“In the OSC’s view, even though Section 3 refers to ‘defendant’ — and even though Congress elsewhere in CIPA specifically referred to ‘any attorney of the defendant’ as distinct from ‘the defendant,’ see CIPA § 2 — the Court nevertheless must read the term ‘the defendant’ in Section 3 to mean ‘attorney for the defendant’ and then simultaneously interpret Section 3 to exclude ‘the defendant’ facing criminal indictment, at least in cases where the government proffers a basis to object to such disclosure pretrial,” Cannon wrote.
“So again, we are left with the OSC’s broad and unconvincing theory, which is that the Court must change the meaning of the word ‘defendant’ to mean, essentially, ‘defense attorney to the exclusion of defendant.’ The Court declines to do so.”
The judge concluded, “In the end, whatever the contours of the OSC’s broad theory prohibiting a defendant’s access to discoverable information, the answer is not to change the natural meaning of a statutory word in Section 3 but rather to use the mechanism provided in CIPA to handle matters related to restricting discovery, which in the case of CIPA is Section 4.”
Cannon also hinted at the possibility of delaying Trump’s trial in the documents case.
“I’m just having a hard time seeing how realistically this work can be accomplished in this compressed period of time, given the realities that we’re facing,” she stated.
Trump’s legal team wants the trial postponed until after the next election.
“Proceeding to trial during the pendency of a Presidential election cycle wherein opposing candidates are effectively (if not literally) directly adverse to one another in this action will create extraordinary challenges in the jury selection process and limit the Defendants’ ability to secure a fair and impartial adjudication,” the lawyers wrote.
Trump is currently facing multiple felony indictments, and some argue that the Democrats are using legal proceedings to interfere in the 2024 election.