02 December 2022

Eleventh Circuit dismisses latest Trump filing

Yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit issued a blistering opinion ordering the dismissal of Donald Trump's latest legal absurdity.
Chief Judge William H. Pryor Jr., a George W. Bush appointee and former prosecutor, wrote the unanimous opinion, which held that the district court judge lacked jurisdiction to interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation. Because a federal magistrate had already found probable cause to search Trump's home before approving the warrant, there was no further role for the federal courts to play, and the district court erred by entertaining Trump's request to have a special master appointed.

The panel emphasized that allowing such an action would open up floodgates of lawsuits by every person who was the subject of a search warrant. Relying on established precedent of Richey v. Smith, 515 F.2d 1239 (5th Cir. 1975), the court summarized:

Anyone could make these arguments. And accepting them would upend Richey, requiring federal courts to oversee routine criminal investigations beyond their constitutionally ascribed role of approving a search warrant based on a showing of probable cause. Our precedents do not allow this, and neither does our constitutional structure.

The panel lastly considered whether to create a special new rule for former presidents under criminal investigation. The court declined, emphasizing that creation of a "special exception here would defy our Nation's foundational principle that our law applies 'to all, without regard to numbers, wealth, or rank,'"  quoting State of Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 1, 4 (1794).

The Full opinion is available here: https://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/.../pub/files/202213005.pdf

Credit to Above the Law for their initial write-up.