For the untrained and reckless, defending someone charged with a criminal offense can mean deploying a “win at all costs” strategy. But when Donald Trump’s defense team asked a special master to examine the records that had been lawfully seized from Mar-a-Lago under a search warrant, we saw the surprising hubris of the lawyers. of the defense who seemed to have turned a blind eye to the law when this was not the case. suit their purposes.
Wanting a special master was straight out of blocking, obstructing, and using Trump’s time to play the victim’s sideshow. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled Thursday that a district judge erred in naming such a review of the documents and barring the Justice Department from using them in its criminal investigation into Trump was the right decision.
We saw the surprising hubris of defense attorneys who seemed to have turned a blind eye to the law when it did not suit their purposes.
Trump’s defense team must have known that his claim was baseless because of the separation of powers. In fact, a social studies class in elementary school (I’m sure I’m in a relationship now) might have known. This is where many first learn that the legislature makes the law, the executive branch enforces the law, and the judiciary interprets the law.
Every defense attorney with a pulse knows, or should know, that the judiciary, in almost all cases, has no right or authority to interfere in a criminal investigation conducted by the executive branch (here , the Ministry of Justice).
What if a defendant believes they have the proverbial golden ticket (a nod to Willy Wonka) to get the judiciary to stick a broom into the shelves of a Justice Department investigation where, say, the department obtained and executed a search warrant, so the law is as clear as the right eyeglass prescription. The aggrieved party (here, Trump) must prove the following four elements: (1) the government’s callous disregard for its constitutional rights; (2) his interest in or need for the things seized; (3) he will suffer irreparable damage if the material is not returned; and (4) he has no adequate remedy at law.
Team Trump couldn’t muster the strength to jump over the first hurdle. Not only has the government not been insensitive when it comes to Trump’s constitutional rights, but the government has also shown him deference and almost been submissive to him. How many times has the former president politely asked to just hand over the documents?
Now that we know Trump’s defense had no basis on the first standard of proof, what about the other three? Well, the Trump team couldn’t do better with the second or the third. It boils down to one simple fact: these documents are not Trump’s. They belong to the government. The only harm Trump suffers if these documents are in the hands of the Justice Department is the ease with which he can be sued – it really is the question of whether he had them.
In reality, the only one who suffers harm as a result of these documents is the public, and those who protect us as an infiltration because among the documents was highly classified information.
That brings us to #4. And the former president also has no case because he Is have an adequate remedy at law, even if it is one that his defense team should hope never to have to use. The bad news is that Trump should be indicted; the good news is that Trump could then exercise his right to challenge (dispute) the search warrant and bring a motion to suppress the fruits of the search. In other words, Trump could take steps to prevent prosecution of seized documents trying to argue that they were obtained in violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be immune from search and prosecution. an unreasonable seizure.
A criminal defense attorney’s job is to get the best possible result for the client. The defense attorney reviews the facts of a case and the applicable law in the hope that one of them favors the client. A seasoned defense attorney will look at the intersection of a case and determine that “if the facts take me this way, I will go this way” or “if the law takes me this way, I will go in this way”. road.”
When the district judge considered granting Trump a special master, she should have seen clearly that the Trump team was seeking to delay proceedings.
But what if the defense attorney has neither? Then, the strategy may just be to slow down what may be unavoidable. And this is where the district judge must step in to stop frivolous delays. The justice of the peace is charged with a double responsibility. One is to ensure that the delay is not the product of defense arguments that cannot be supported by applicable law. The other is to decide whether the defense has made a good faith argument that the law is wrong and should be changed or even struck down.
When the district judge considered granting Trump a special master, she should have seen clearly that the Trump team was seeking to delay proceedings by simply choosing to ignore fundamental concepts of separation of powers and the law.
A CM2 student knows that the judiciary cannot legislate. A 3L – or third year – law student who has gone through criminal proceedings knows that a search warrant is issued by a judge after the government provides evidence that it is more likely than not that evidence of a crime will be found in a particular location. A third-year partner in a law firm knows the difference between a court (where an aggrieved party gets damages, for example) and a court of equity (where the court tries to be fair by issuing, for example, an injunction to maintain the status quo until the case is over). And I knew quite early in my career in criminal law that it is rare for a criminal court to be able or willing to exercise fair powers in a criminal case. In Trump’s case, the district court decided to sit as a court of equity. It was completely inappropriate.
Fortunately, the Court of Appeal understood. Team Trump’s arguments were a sideshow. It was a thinly veiled effort to stop the Justice Department from sitting down with the documents seized under a court-blessed search warrant and figuring out if it’s time for Trump to surrender. account of his conduct. The former president cannot keep those responsible for enforcing our laws in a wild goose chase indefinitely. The 11th Circuit was right to tell the Trump Circus to pitch their big tent.