Florida District Judge Aileen Cannon appointed a Special Master in the Trump case involving the Justice Department probe of documents at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home Mar-a-Lago last month.
In her order reported by the AP and published by Newser here, Judge Cannon refused a Justice Department request to lift her temporary prohibition on the department’s use of the roughly 100 classified records that were taken during the Aug. 8 search. She also granted the newly named special master, Raymond Dearie, access to the entire tranche of documents seized from the property even though the department had said the arbiter shouldn’t be permitted to inspect the batch of classified records.
The Justice Department is expected to contest the judge’s order to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. It had given Cannon until Thursday to put on hold her order barring the continued review of classified records and said it would ask the Atlanta-based appellate court to intervene if she did not do so then.
The selection of Dearie for the Trump case, a former federal prosecutor who for years served as the chief judge of the federal court based in Brooklyn, came after both the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers made clear that they would be satisfied with his appointment as a special master. Hey, at least they agree on something! 😉
In that role, Dearie will be responsible for reviewing the documents taken during the search of Mar-a-Lago and segregating out any that may be covered by claims of privilege. It is not clear how long the work will take but the special master process has already delayed the investigation, with Cannon directing the Justice Department to temporarily pause core aspects of its probe.
Dearie served as the top federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York from 1982 to 1986, at which point he was appointed to the federal bench by then-President Ronald Reagan. He has also served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorizes Justice Department wiretap applications in investigations involving suspected agents of a foreign power.
Appointment of a Special Master in cases seems to happen more frequently these days, as litigation disputes seem to only get more complicated. Just last month, EDRM published a public comment version of a new Special Masters and Discovery Mediation Bench Book, which discusses (among other things) when they might be appointed or recommended, and the benefits of using one. Perhaps Newser should read it, as they put ‘Special Master’ in quotes in the title of their article. 😀
No surprise that the Court decided to use one here, as this Trump case will likely only get more convoluted – Special Master or no Special Master in yet another instance of eDiscovery in the news.
So, what do you think? Will a Special Master help move this case or along or will it continue to be convoluted? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
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