HomeFederal judge appoints special master to review documents seized at Mar-a-Lago

Federal judge appoints special master to review documents seized at Mar-a-Lago

An aerial view of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home after Trump said that FBI agents raided it, in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 15, 2022.

Marco Bello | Reuters

A federal judge appointed a special master to review documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate, while denying the Justice Department continued access to roughly 100 classified documents collected at the property.

In an order Thursday, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon named Raymond J. Dearie, senior U.S district judge for the Eastern District of New York, to review all of the materials seized on Aug. 8.

The Justice Department had asked for a stay of the judge’s previous motion so it could continue to review the seized documents for use in an ongoing criminal investigation. Cannon denied that request, saying she isn’t prepared to accept all of the department’s assertions at face value without the special master review process. 

“The Court does not find it appropriate to accept the Government’s conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly fashion,” Cannon wrote in the Thursday evening ruling. 

Dearie, a former federal judge nominated by President Ronald Reagan, was among a pair of candidates recommended by Trump’s legal team for the role of special master. The Justice Department, which had proposed two candidates of its own, later approved of Dearie for the role.

Documents seized by FBI from Mar-a-Lago

Source: Department of Justice

Cannon laid out the duties of the special master to include conducting a “privilege review” of the documents and checking them against the property inventory, as well as making recommendations about personal items, documents and presidential records that might be under dispute between the parties.

Cannon said the special master would also be responsible for evaluating any claims regarding the return of property.

The judge set a deadline of November 30 for Dearie to conclude his review and classifications.

The development comes after the Justice Department said in a court filing last week that it would appeal Cannon’s ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

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