MSNBC legal expert says new Supreme Court decision unlikely to affect Trump's prosecution

 June 16, 2023

The Supreme Court ruled this week that the Constitution permits a retrial when a criminal defendant was charged in the wrong venue.

While some think the case may have impacted Special Counsel Jack Smith's prosecution of former President Donald Trump, MSNBC legal commentator Jordan Rubin says otherwise. 

Rubin does not believe case was a factor in where Smith brought charges

Rubin noted in a blog post that "prosecutors need to bring cases where the crime allegedly occurred," which explains why Smith indicted Trump in the Southern District of Florida.

Trump is alleged to have improperly kept classified material at his Mar-a-Lago resort, which is located in Palm Beach, Florida.

However, there has been speculation that Smith brought charges in Florida rather than in Washington (where the documents were allegedly taken from) because he feared the Supreme Court might rule that a defendant who was tried in the wrong venue could not be tried again.

Rubin was dismissive of this suggestion, writing that "if Smith thought this now-favorable ruling for the government would have enabled him to charge Trump in Washington instead of Florida, then he could have waited at most a month for the Supreme Court to finish issuing decisions this term."

Andrew Weissman suggests bringing another case in New Jersey

The issue of venue in Trump's case was also recently addressed by former Mueller probe attorney Andrew Weissmann and New York University School of Law professor Ryan Goodman.

They argued in an article published by The Atlantic this week that as well as prosecuting Trump in Florida, Smith could also bring charges of disseminating classified materials in New Jersey.

Such charges would be based on the transcript of an as-yet-unreleased audio recording in which Trump can allegedly be heard describing and showing the contents of classified documents to others at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course.

"Justice Department prosecutors could not necessarily bring charges against Trump in Miami for alleged criminal conduct that occurred in another state, in this case New Jersey," Weissmann and Goodman acknowledged.

New Jersey "more favorable" jury pool

They stressed that "the absence of such charges in the indictment raises the intriguing possibility of another indictment to come, in a jurisdiction, no less, with a pool of jurors and judges more favorable to the government’s case against Trump."

This, Weissmann and Goodman contend, may provide Smith with a "backup option" offering "another way to ensure accountability."

Their suggestion that New Jersey could offer a "more favorable" jury pool is supported by the 2020 election results. Whereas the former president carried Florida by 3.3%, he lost New Jersey by 15.8%.

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