Judge Aileen Cannon, appointed special master in the Donald Trump trial, lives in Vero Beach

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FORT PIERCE — When U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon sentenced the two defendants to appear in court last week at the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, today was a day in court, like most days she had spent in the two years since her appointment. ex-president Donald Trump.

In Cannon’s courtroom, there was no sign that the soft-spoken Colombian-born former federal prosecutor saw his profile skyrocket after he was thrust into the center of the legal storm surrounding the FBI search on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Aug. in Palm Beach.

The September 5 decision, which granted Trump’s request for an independent arbitrator to review documents obtained during the FBI investigation, was the highlight of his career. He also ordered the Ministry of Justice to suspend his criminal investigation pending the review.

It placed him at the center of a simmering legal debate about the limits of executive privilege and presidential power.

The Justice Department appealed part of the order, arguing that the criminal investigation into the nearly 100 classified documents seized at Trump’s property should continue and should not be part of the review by U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, who was appointed as a special administrator.

Complex legal disputes now involve four federal court locations: the Supreme Court, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Cannon court, and Dearie’s court in Brooklyn, New York.

Appointed to the stand shortly before Trump lost the 2020 election, Cannon, 41, became the most senior federal judge in Florida’s U.S. Southern District, with five of the 16 active judges appointed by Trump.

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Living in Vero Beach, where she lives with her husband and two children on an oceanfront estate, Cannon is Alto Lee Adams, Sr., in Fort Pierce, South Florida’s northernmost outpost. He is the only U.S. district judge appointed to the U.S. Courthouse. The region that includes West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.

Federal courthouse in Fort Pierce

Federal courthouse in Fort Pierce

Cannon wrote in his Senate application that he has owned The Moorings Yacht and Country Club on Orchid Island since 2019.

‘Reasonable and fair’

During an Oct. 7 sentence, Cannon maintained a calm and polite demeanor as he addressed lawyers, clerks, and security guards in a high-ceilinged wood-paneled courtroom, where he ordered the 44-year-old Lakeland man to serve nearly 11 years in prison. two drug distribution convictions.

Lance Ratterree was convicted along with two others accused of smuggling methamphetamine, which federal officials said resulted in the seizure of approximately 10 pounds of methamphetamine and 26 firearms.

Ratterree’s Fort Lauderdale attorney, Robert “Bob” Stickney, defended his nearly eight-year sentence, while Cannon sided with a federal prosecutor who requested nearly 12 years.

Still, after the trial, Stickney said it was his first case before Cannon, praising his judicial stance.

“Judge Cannon is thoughtful, thorough, restrained and fair in carrying out his duties as judge,” he said. “No experienced lawyer could ask for more.”

Aileen M Ball

Aileen M Ball

Later that day, Cannon seemed sympathetic to a Honduran man who was convicted of illegally re-entering the country after being deported in 2015. Wilman had Espinoza-Erazo sentenced to 4½ months in prison since his arrest in June, meaning he would be out of jail. but still faced deportation.

Cannon paused briefly when he saw Espinoza-Erazo appear close to tears before addressing him.

“I came to this country running from gangs… thanks to this country I have a life,” he told Cannon through a Spanish translator. “I have a 90% chance of dying in Honduras.”

Cannon noted his uncertain future after serving his sentence, which included surrendering to immigration officials.

“God bless you sir,” he said. “I wish you peace and security in your progress.”

Court decisions postponed

Cannon faced fierce criticism after Trump’s decision to appoint Dearie as special administrator to review documents containing classified and top-secret records and temporarily suspended the Justice Department’s criminal investigation.

The move was applauded by Trump supporters who wanted to check the government’s investigation. But others said Cannon showed excessive respect for the former president.

Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, said Fox News Cannon’s September 5 view was “deeply flawed in many ways”.

“I think it was wrong,” Barr told Fox News. “I think the government should object”

Here is a page from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon's order, which names Raymond Dearie as special master to serve as an independent arbitrator and the FBI to review recordings seized during a search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, Photographed on Thursday, September.  15, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick) ORG XMIT: DCJE394

Here is a page from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s order, which names Raymond Dearie as special master to serve as an independent arbitrator and the FBI to review recordings seized during a search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, Photographed on Thursday, September. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick) ORG XMIT: DCJE394

His decision was appealed, and on September 21, an appeals panel of three judges blocked a narrow portion of Cannon’s decision, deciding that criminal investigators could continue to examine the nearly 100 documents marked as classified and would not have to hand them over to Dearie.

On October 11, the Justice Department urged the Supreme Court not to accept the October 3 emergency request submitted by Trump’s lawyers to review the appeals court decision.

Two days later, the Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed Trump’s urgent appeal without explaining his reasoning. There was no obvious opposition.

In a brief statement submitted to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, the Justice Department formally objected to Cannon’s appointment of a special master to examine documents seized from Trump’s Palm Beach property.

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While criticism of Cannon’s decisions has surfaced on social media, cable TV shows and national newspapers, it is unclear whether this backlash poses potential threats to Cannon’s safety.

The U.S. Police Department will not discuss the security measures taken on his behalf, neither at the courthouse nor outside of work.

Brady McCarron, vice president of public relations for US Marshal, declined to say what has been done to protect Cannon since Trump’s case was randomly assigned to him.

“The U.S. Police is responsible for maintaining federal due process, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” McCarron emailed. Said. “While we do not discuss our specific security measures, we are continually reviewing the measures in place and taking appropriate steps to provide protection as necessary to ensure the integrity of the federal judicial process.”

Cannon’s rise to the judiciary was swift. Florida Republican US Sens. He was a lawyer for only 12 years when he was recommended by Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.

Born in 1981 in Cali, Colombia, his father, Michael Cannon, worked in advertising in South and Latin America. Aileen Cannon came to the United States as a child and eventually graduated from Duke University in 2003.

During his college years, Cannon wrote a series of articles for El Nuevo Herald, a Spanish-language newspaper owned by the Miami Herald. After earning a law degree from the University of Michigan in 2007, Cannon served as a clerk to U.S. District Judge Steven M. Colloton at the U.S. Court of Appeals in Des Moines, Iowa. He then spent three years in private practice with the leading international law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in Washington.

She married Josh Lorence in 2008 in a ceremony held in Coconut Grove. According to the New York Times, Lorence is a manager at Bobby’s Burgers, a restaurant chain owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay.

During Cannon’s roughly seven years as a federal prosecutor, he worked mainly at Fort Pierce. Beginning in 2013, Cannon has prosecuted 41 cases as part of the Major Crimes Division and subsequently handled appeals of criminal convictions and sentences.

Since 2005, Cannon has been a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization that has defended Trump-appointed judges, including Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

During her confirmation hearing in July 2020, the prosecutor at the time stated that her mother “had to flee the oppressive Castro regime in search of freedom and security,” and left Cuba at the age of 7.

“Thank you for teaching me the blessings of this country and the importance of securing the rule of law for future generations,” Cannon said to his Miami mother, Mercedes Cubas.

As a U.S. district judge, Cannon presides over civil and criminal cases, including:

  • August 2021: The Town of Indian River Shores filed an antitrust suit against Vero Beach seeking to void a 1989 agreement that set water service boundaries between Vero Beach and Indian River County. A trial is scheduled for January, according to the records.

  • April 4: Paul Hoeffer, 60, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges related to making obscene death threats against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and two other top Democrat women.

  • 11 July: Former Sewall’s Point police officer, Juan Antonio Garcia, 31, has been sentenced to nearly 26 years in prison for charges related to using his cell phone to solicit sex from a young boy he befriended.

  • 25 July: Michael Adam Carmody, 29, of Fort Pierce, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in a child pornography case. He was also ordered to serve lifelong probation after pleading guilty to three crimes.

  • July 27: A jury, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara and his deputy who shot Gregory Hill Jr, 30, in the garage of his Fort Pierce home in 2014. Hill was hit when lawmakers responded to the loud music complaint.

Palm Beach Post staff writer Jane Musgrave and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Melissa E. Holsman is the legal affairs correspondent for TCPalm and the Treasure Coast Newspapers, and author and co-host of Vague Terms, a true crime podcast. Reach her at melissa.holsman@tcpalm.com.

This article was originally published in the Treasure Coast Newspapers: Federal judge Aileen Cannon at the center of the Donald Trump legal debate

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