An appeals court panel ruled a few weeks ago that a district judge in Florida lacked the jurisdictional authority to appoint a “special master” to independently review the thousands of documents seized by the FBI during its unprecedented raid in August of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Now that same district judge has abided by the order of the appeals court and ordered Trump’s lawsuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction, which effectively ends the special master review and everything else related to it, the Conservative Brief reported.
This undeniable loss for Trump also means that President Joe Biden’s FBI and Justice Department can move forward unchecked with their investigation of the seized documents and increasingly apparent plan to indict the former president who has already formally announced his candidacy to challenge Biden for the White House in 2024.
In a one-page order issued Monday, Florida-based U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who was nominated by Trump, stated that in light of the ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel to vacate her prior order to appoint the special master and instruction to dismiss the underlying case, she was doing exactly that.
As such, the case of Trump v. United States was “dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.” Furthermore, any future scheduled hearings were “canceled,” any pending motions were “dismissed as moot,” and all deadlines associated with the case, hearings, and motions were now “terminated” and the case was closed.
The Washington Examiner reported that Judge Cannon really had no options other than to abide by the order from the superior appeals court panel that had scathingly lambasted her decision to even take up the Trump lawsuit over the FBI raid, much less appoint the independent special master and order restrictions imposed on the FBI and DOJ in regard to the seized documents.
Ironically enough, Cannon’s dismissal order preemptively ends the review of the special master, semiretired New York Judge Raymond Dearie, who had been expected to complete his review of the seized documents for any “privileged” materials that shouldn’t have been taken as soon as the end of this week.
Circuit court delivered lashing to judge, Trump, over special master appointment
Law & Crime reported on Dec. 1 that a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit, all of whom were appointed by Republicans, including Trump himself, had essentially excoriated Judge Cannon for acting beyond her authority on behalf of the former president and called out Trump himself for seemingly expecting special treatment not generally afforded to other Americans subjected to a law enforcement investigation and search warrant.
In the 23-page ruling, the judges wrote that upon consideration of the Trump case, “We are faced with a choice: apply our usual test; drastically expand the availability of equitable jurisdiction for every subject of a search warrant; or carve out an unprecedented exception in our law for former presidents. We choose the first option. So the case must be dismissed.”
The opinion went on to state: “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. Either approach would be a radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations. And both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations.”
Given all of that, the panel concluded, “The district court improperly exercised equitable jurisdiction in this case. For that reason, we VACATE the September 5 order on appeal and REMAND with instructions for the district court to DISMISS the underlying civil action.”
Law & Crime noted that Judge Cannon’s exercise of “equitable jurisdiction” was criticized and overturned due to the fact that it is a rare judicial move reserved for instances in which law enforcement clearly displays “callous disregard” for the constitutional rights of an individual — a crucial point that was never proven by Trump’s attorneys in any of the several legal briefs or oral arguments in this case.
No appeal to Supreme Court
The New York Post reported that Trump’s legal team had declined to appeal the 11th Circuit panel’s decision to the Supreme Court, and it is unclear if that option is still available to them now that the district judge has dismissed the entire case.
Assuming the ruling stands, the matter of the documents seized in the August FBI raid now falls under the purview of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November and tasked with overseeing the multiple and varied ongoing federal investigations of the former president.