Judge Cannon shoots down Jack Smith's request to keep evidence under seal

 February 8, 2024

The federal judge overseeing Jack Smith's classified documents case against Donald Trump rejected the prosecutor's demand to keep certain evidence under seal. 

In her 10-page ruling, judge Aileen Cannon found that Smith had failed to overcome the "strong presumption of public access in criminal proceedings."

Smith shot down...

The judge found that Smith's "broad and unspecified" claims about witness safety were not substantiated by facts.

Trump's lawyers had mocked Smith's "vague" concern over witnesses, citing "leaks by prosecutors...which reveal some of the witnesses' government email addresses."

A group of media organizations also urged the judge to carefully scrutinize Smith's proposed redactions, citing the public interest in transparency.

In her Tuesday order, Cannon declared the media request moot as she sided with Trump and admonished Smith against redacting unclassified information without her permission.

“There shall be no filing under seal of any unclassified material in this case unless the party seeking to make a filing under full or partial seal first has sought and obtained permission from the Court through a motion for leave to file under seal,” the ruling states.

“The motion for leave shall be filed publicly except in clear and supported cases of risk to personal safety or national security,” it continues.

Trial faces delays

Trump has blasted Smith as "deranged" and little more than a partisan actor working on behalf of President Biden, Trump's political rival and likely opponent in the 2024 presidential election.

Smith has faced some headwinds in his apparent effort to prosecute Trump before the election, and Cannon's latest ruling did Smith no favors, there.

"Putting the special counsel to his proof and requiring him to turn square corners in discovery is likely to slow and prolong the proceedings, advantaging Defendants' strategy of delay," Professor Anthony Alfieri, a University of Miami School of Law professor, told Newsweek.

Cannon's Tuesday ruling is a sobering setback for Smith, who had one of his biggest legal victories yet on the same day in his federal election case in D.C.

The D.C. appeals court's rejection of Trump's presidential immunity claim was not surprising, but it brought Smith one step closer to bringing his case to trial. The case has been paused pending Trump's appeal, which could head to the Supreme Court next.

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