“Manifest injustice”: Jack Smith calls out Judge Cannon’s “clear error” in new filing

Smith sounds the alarm after Cannon refuses to shield witnesses in Trump documents case despite threats

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published February 9, 2024 8:58AM (EST)

Special Counsel Jack Smith (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Special Counsel Jack Smith (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team on Thursday said U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon made a “clear error” by refusing to shield witnesses in former President Donald Trump’s documents case.

Smith’s team asked Cannon to reconsider her order granting Trump’s request to unredact portions of their motions for discovery, rejecting the Justice Department’s concerns about potential harm to witnesses.

The special counsel’s motion argued that Cannon made a “clear error’ that defied 11th Circuit Court precedent and would cause “manifest injustice.”

"That discovery material, if publicly docketed in unredacted form as the Court has ordered, would disclose the identities of numerous potential witnesses, along with the substance of the statements they made to the FBI or the grand jury, exposing them to significant and immediate risks of threats, intimidation, and harassment, as has already happened to witnesses, law enforcement agents, judicial officers, and Department of Justice employees whose identities have been disclosed in cases in which defendant Trump is involved," the filing said.

Smith’s team on Wednesday revealed that authorities are already investigating a series of online threats made to potential witnesses in the case.

"The Court's conclusion that the Government's witness-safety concerns are too speculative or generalized is misplaced," Thursday’s filing said. "A court's duty is to prevent harms to the witnesses or the judicial process 'at their inception,' before they are realized and dysfunction envelops the trial."

Smith argued that Cannon wrongly stated that the DOJ must show a compelling interest to keep the documents private.

"The Eleventh Circuit has held that the compelling-interest standard applied by the Court does not apply to 'documents filed in connection with motions to compel discovery,' which instead may be sealed or redacted simply upon a showing of 'good cause,'” the filing said. "Because the Court applied the wrong legal standard... reconsideration is warranted to 'correct clear error.'"

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