“The Government’s Motion does not explain why filing the list with the Court is necessary; it does not offer a particularized basis to justify sealing the list from public view; it does not explain why partial sealing, redaction, or means other than sealing are unavailable or unsatisfactory; and it does not specify the duration of any proposed seal.”
When Donald Trump was arraigned in the Florida Mar-a-Lago records case, one of the conditions of bond was that he not communicate with witnesses on a list provided to the defense by the prosecution.
The prosecution then filed a motion to have the list filed under seal in Court, as mentioned in our post a couple of days ago, DOJ Request For Delay Of Trump Florida Trial Has Nothing To Do With Strength Or Weakness Of The Case.
A coalition of news organizations filed in court today to prevent the list being sealed, arguing that it was in the public interest that the names not be kept secret.
The coalition includes: Cable News Network, Inc., Advance Publications, Inc., American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. d/b/a ABC News, The Associated Press, Bloomberg L.P., CBS Broadcasting, Inc. o/b/o CBS News, CMG Media Corporation, Cox Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dow Jones & Company, Inc., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, The E.W. Scripps Company, Fort Myers Broadcasting Company, Gray Media Group, Inc., Guardian News & Media Limited, Insider Inc., Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, publisher of The Los Angeles Times, the McClatchy Company, LLC d/b/a the Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Inc., National Cable Satellite Corporation d/b/a C-SPAN, NBCUniversal Media, LLC d/b/a NBC News, The New York Times Company, Orlando Sentinel Media Group, publisher of the Orlando Sentinel, POLITICO LLC, Radio Television Digital News Association, Reuters News & Media Inc., Sun-Sentinel Company, LLC, publisher of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, TEGNA Inc., Telemundo Network Group LLC d/b/a Noticias Telemundo, Univision Networks & Studios, Inc., WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post, WPLG, Inc., and The Palm Beach Post and USA TODAY, publications operated by subsidiaries of Gannett Co., Inc.
The coalition argued that complete transparency was needed is this most unique of cases:
This case—the first prosecution of a former President of the United States—is one of the most consequential criminal cases in the Nation’s history. The American public’s interest in this matter, and need to monitor its progress every step of the way, cannot be overstated….
The filing of the list of potential witnesses in this case is a highly significant initial step in this extraordinary prosecution. It will mark the first time that the Court has instructed the Government to inform Trump of the identities of persons who may offer testimony that prosecutors believe will incriminate him. At the same time, Trump’s counsel has made clear that many of these witnesses are long-time acquaintances and staffers, and he will now be forbidden, on pain of contempt, from discussing this case with them. The list is not trivial to the process or the Defendant. In fact, along with the public Indictment, it reflects a turning point from the secrecy of the Grand Jury investigation to the public administration of justice involving the highest level of power in American Government.
If the public right to oversee judicial proceedings is to mean anything, it mandates that the public have full access to the judicial records of these proceedings, starting with this Court ordered witness list….
There can hardly be a criminal prosecution in which transparency matters more than when a former President is charged with multiple felonies, including from the alleged mishandling of classified national defense information and the alleged obstruction of justice. The Press Coalition seeks leave to intervene to oppose the government’s motion to file the Court-ordered witness list under seal and requests that the Court instruct the government to publicly file that list.
Judge Aileen Cannon, who is hated by the left because of her favorable rulings for Trump related to the Mar-a-Lago raid (later reversed by the 11th Circuit), just denied the prosecution’s motion, as reflected on the case PACER electronic docket (emphasis added):
PAPERLESS ORDER denying without prejudice 33 Government’s Motion to Implement Special Condition of Release. The Government seeks an order implementing a special condition of bond related to Defendants’ communication with eighty-four listed witnesses about the facts of the case, except through counsel [ECF No. 17 p. 4]. The Government conditions its request on the filing of the non-exhaustive list under seal. Defendants take no position on the Government’s seal request but reserve the right to object to the special condition and the manner by which the Government intends to implement it. In the meantime, numerous news organizations have moved to intervene to oppose the Government’s Motion to File Witness List Under Seal, citing the First Amendment and related legal principles 35 . Upon review of the foregoing materials, the Government’s Motion 33 is denied without prejudice, and the Motion to Intervene 35 and accompanying Motions to Appear Pro Hac Vice 36 37 38 39 are denied as moot. The Government’s Motion does not explain why filing the list with the Court is necessary; it does not offer a particularized basis to justify sealing the list from public view; it does not explain why partial sealing, redaction, or means other than sealing are unavailable or unsatisfactory; and it does not specify the duration of any proposed seal. See S.D. Fla. L.R. 5.4(a), (c)(1). The Clerk is directed to return the Pro Hac Vice fees to the filing attorneys. Signed by Judge Aileen M. Cannon on 6/26/2023. (sj00) (Entered: 06/26/2023)
Defense counsel has the list already; the only question now is whether the rest of us can or will and on what timeline. After all, she questions whether it need be filed with the court period. 2/ pic.twitter.com/YOjbhBqi6a
— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) June 26, 2023
People is mad:
I'm sure Judge Aileen Cannon has been promised a SCOTUS seat if Trump wins in 2024 so she doesn't care how many times the 11th circuit smacks her down she'll rule in Trumps favor at every turn
— Jimmy (@JimmyStreich) June 26, 2023
If Aileen Cannon was a Trump lawyer instead of a Trump Judge, she probably would have been the 85th witness on the list.
She is deplorable.
— CoffeyTimeNews (@CoffeyTimeNews) June 26, 2023
This of course puts anti-Trump media in a bind. The Judge agreed with them at least tentatively, but it’s perceived as a pro-Trump move. He still can’t communicate with the 84 witnesses, but the government doesn’t get to keep their names secret, yet. The government can, and almost certainly will. refile with more explanation as to the need for keeping the names secret for now. The names will tell us a lot about the prosecution case.
Will the prosecution run to the 11th Circuit again? Unlikely yet, the Judge hasn’t ordered the names disclosed and may ultimately grant the request, but she’s not going to rubber-stamp everything the prosecution files.
In other news, the Judge also is keeping a fast pre-trial schedule. While there is still not reason to expect an August 14 trial, she’s keeping her judicial pedal to the metal, ordering the defendants to file their position on the request to delay the August 14 trial by July 6:
PAPERLESS ORDER: On or before July 6, 2023, Defendants shall respond to the Government’s Motion for Continuance 34 , either individually or in a combined filing. Signed by Judge Aileen M. Cannon on 6/26/2023. (kts) (Entered: 06/26/2023)
She also scheduled a conference on how to deal with classified documents for August 14:
Pretty soon we will find out what the defense wants to do with this case — will they seek a faster trial, or go along with the prosecution request to delay trial until December (which still would be pretty quick for a case of this importance).DONATE
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