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Trump-appointed judge could save him from conviction in classified-documents case with one simple move, legal expert claims

After winning the states of Michigan, Idaho, and Missouri and losing D.C. to Haley over the weekend, Donald Trump heads to Super Tuesday to probably secure the Republican nomination. Trump’s campaign has gone better than planned so far, but the former president still has several ongoing legal cases that question his run for president as his legal team tries to postpone them for as long as possible, preferably for after the general election in November.

The Trump strategy seems to have worked so far

Slowly but surely, Trump’s legal team is delaying the cases. Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor and legal analyst, has recently explained that three of the ongoing legal cases against Trump are moving in Trump’s desired direction. In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and prosecutor Nathan Wade, both working on Trump’s case, confessed to being in a personal relationship. This might delay the case initially scheduled for trial in August.

The trial about classified documents, which was supposed to begin in May, is now facing delays due to legal disputes about how the classified papers at the heart of the case are being handled. In Washington, D.C., Trump faces charges related to his attempts to change the outcome of the 2020 election before the January 6 Capitol riot. Trump is also trying to delay this case for several months.

Trump-appointed judge to play role in one of the cases

Vance believes the judge in Donald Trump’s trial about classified documents might help him avoid conviction just before the 2024 election starts. Judge Aileen Cannon’s decisions in this trial could impact the outcome significantly. Trump has denied 40 accusations claiming he kept secret documents illegally after his presidency ended and blocked the government’s efforts to get them back.

Read also: The U.S. Supreme Court decision on Wednesday just opened Trump’s doors to freedom

The judge in Donald Trump's trial about classified documents might help him avoid conviction just before the 2024 election starts.

Trump attended court meeting on Friday in person

During a meeting on Friday, which Trump also attended in person, to discuss the trial’s schedule originally set for May, Trump’s lawyers argued it should be pushed to 2025 because of his campaign for the 2024 election. However, they also proposed August 12 as a possible start date, following a court’s directive. Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team suggested to Judge Cannon that the trial should start in July. The timing is crucial for Trump. If he wins against Joe Biden in November and the trial hasn’t happened yet, he could, as president, instruct the Justice Department to stop the case against him.

Vance explains how Judge Cannon can handle the evidence

Before the court session, Vance posted several times on X mentioning that Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Trump and has faced criticism for rulings that seemed to favor him in the classified-documents case, might help him again through her decisions on evidence disclosure. Cannon has been involved in discussions under the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) with Trump’s lawyers and Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team. These talks are about how to handle the case’s sensitive information during the trial.

Vance pointed out that the outcome of Trump’s trial, whether he is found guilty or not, could largely depend on Judge Cannon’s decisions regarding the evidence and what she permits Smith’s team to present in court.

The judge in Donald Trump's trial about classified documents might help him avoid conviction just before the 2024 election starts.

Read also: Swing states bring the victory and Trump leads Biden in each of them, surveys show

“Decisions about what evidence is admitted at trial is left to the discretion of the trial judge. For the classified documents case, that means Judge Cannon gets to decide what evidence Jack Smith can introduce,” Vance said in her first post on X.

“Decisions against the gov’t on evidence aren’t subject to review on appeal if a defendant is acquitted. Once a jury is sworn in, double jeopardy attaches & a defendant who is acquitted can’t be retried. If a judge excludes essential evidence & the jury acquits, that’s it,” she then continued.

Too much power in judge’s hands

In simple terms, Vance explained that Judge Cannon has significant power over the trial’s outcome because she can decide which pieces of evidence can be shown in court. Essentially, if Judge Cannon decides not to allow certain evidence that is crucial for proving Trump’s guilt, and as a result, Trump is found not guilty, there’s no second chance to try him again for the same crime. This is because of a rule called “double jeopardy,” which means that once someone is tried and acquitted (found not guilty) of a crime, they cannot be tried again for the same offense.

The Trump-appointed judge’s decisions on the evidence are very important and could directly affect whether Trump is convicted or acquitted.

Read also: Key groups that helped Biden win in 2020 now turn to Trump due to POTUS’ poor immigration policies: Poll

Trump lawyers want the trial postponed; the federal prosecutor wants the start in May

During the hearing about when to start the classified-documents trial, Judge Cannon didn’t set a new date but it’s thought she might delay it from the original May 20 date. Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, argued that having the trial before the November election would be wrong. On the other hand, federal prosecutor Jay Brett claimed that the trial dates suggested by Trump’s lawyers are not genuine and are just a strategy to postpone the trial further, even if the judge agrees to their timeline.

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