Mar-a-Lago Raid: 11th Circuit Grants Partial Stay of District Court Special Master Order As To Documents Marked Classified
Feds “entitled to a stay of the district court’s order, to the extent that it (1) requires the government to submit for the special master’s review the documents with classification markings and (2) enjoins the United States from using that subset of documents in a criminal investigation.”
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted the feds motion for a partial stay of that portion of the District Court’s Order appointing a Special Master as required the feds to submit approximatly 100 documents with classified markings for review by the Special Master, and prohitibit the feds from using those documents as part of a criminal investigation until review by the Special Master.
From the Opinion issued tonight (emphasis added):
Following the execution of a search warrant at the residence of Plaintiff-Appellee, former President Donald J. Trump, Plaintiff moved for the appointment of a special master to review the documents that Defendant-Appellant United States of America seized. The district court granted that motion in substantial part. Now, the United States moves for a partial stay of the district court’s order as it relates to the roughly one-hundred documents bearing classification markings. We decide only the narrow question presented: whether the United States has established that it is entitled to a stay of the district court’s order, to the extent that it (1) requires the government to submit for the special master’s review the documents with classification markings and (2) enjoins the United States from using that subset of documents in a criminal investigation. We conclude that it has.
We stress the limited nature of our review: this matter comes to us on a motion for a partial stay pending appeal. We cannot (and do not) decide the merits of this case. We decide only the traditional equitable considerations, including whether the United States has shown a substantial likelihood of prevailing on the merits, the harm each party might suffer from a stay, and where the public interest lies.
For the reasons we explain below, we grant the United States’s motion for a partial stay pending appeal.
Key parts of the Opinion:
The second Richey factor considers “whether the plaintiff has an individual interest in and need for the material whose return he seeks.” 515 F.2d at 1243. The district court concluded that Plaintiff had an interest in some of the seized material because it included “medical documents, correspondence related to taxes, and accounting information.” Doc. No. 64 at 9. But none of those concerns apply to the roughly one-hundred classified documents at issue here. And the district court made no mention in its analysis of this factor as to why or how Plaintiff might have an individual interest in or need for the classified documents. For our part, we cannot discern why Plaintiff would have an individual interest in or need for any of the one-hundred documents with classification markings….
Plaintiff has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents. Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents. And even if he had, that, in and of itself, would not explain why Plaintiff has an individual interest in the classified documents. Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President. But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified. And before the special master, Plaintiff resisted providing any evidence that he had declassified any of these documents…. In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal. So even if we assumed that Plaintiff did declassify some or all of the documents, that would not explain why he has a personal interest in them.
This factor—the Plaintiff’s personal interest (or lack thereof) in the documents—also weighs against exercising jurisdiction ….
Through Kohler’s declaration, the United States has sufficiently explained how and why its national-security review is inextricably intertwined with its criminal investigation. When matters of national security are involved, we “must accord substantial weight to an agency’s affidavit.”
11th Circuit didn't address these key legal points.
Again, under Presidential Records Act:
1. Records "received" by the President are presidential records
2. He determines what are "personal"
2. Former Presidents get unfettered access to their records
— 🇺🇸 Mike Davis 🇺🇸 (@mrddmia) September 22, 2022
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.