On Thursday, May 9, 2024, Truthout reported that a petition calling for the removal of Judge Aileen Cannon from the case involving classified documents taken by former President Donald Trump had surpassed 100,000 signatures.

The petition, hosted on the website MoveOn.org, directly addresses Chief Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, who has the authority to remove other judges from cases under certain conditions. It argues that Judge Cannon’s impartiality in the highly publicized Trump documents case could reasonably be questioned because she was appointed by Trump and has made pre-trial rulings that have benefited him but were later overturned by appeals courts.

The petition asserts that as the high-profile case involves allegations that Trump violated the Espionage Act by taking classified documents after leaving office and refusing to return them, it is crucial to have an impartial judge oversee proceedings to prove no one is above the law. However, it is unclear if Chief Judge Altonaga actually has legal power to remove another judge from a case they are presiding over.

The petition garnered over 50,000 signatures in the preceding 10 months but gained increased attention after Judge Cannon indefinitely suspended the upcoming trial date. As of May 9th, more than 102,000 people had signed the petition within a few days, calling on Chief Judge Altonaga to assign a new judge committed to equal justice under the law.

Legal experts interviewed said Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith, who is prosecuting the case, may ask the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to remove Judge Cannon, which could further delay proceedings but would not impact the timeline more than her previous rulings. While Smith has criticized some of Cannon’s actions as “fundamentally flawed”, he has not yet formally made the rare request to have her step aside. Following the recent trial postponement, more experts urged Smith to seek Judge Cannon’s removal due to perceived bias and mishandling of the high-profile case.



Source: Truthout