Trump v. United States of America, No. 22-13005 (11th Cir.) Opinion and Order entered on December 1, 2022, reversing and vacating order of United States District Court granting plaintiff Trump equitable relief in a September 5, 2022 order authorizing the appointment of a Special Master to oversee review of documents and things seized from the former President’s residence in August, 2022.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has concluded that the trial court hearing former President Trump’s request for judicial oversight of the review of materials seized from his residence was in error in granting the relief sought. As courts of limited jurisdiction, federal courts cannot exercise equitable jurisdiction absent “callous disregard” of the constitutional rights of an individual to whom a warrant is directed. Such circumstances are not present in this case notwithstanding that a former President is involved. Were the courts to permit challenges to warrants duly authorized and executed in non-extreme circumstances, challenges to searches and seizures would be routinely challenged, impeding, if not crippling, the work of federal investigators. An urgent need for specific items, denial of which would precipitate grave and irreparable harm, might be grounds for relief, but the general assertions presented in this case do not demonstrate such a need. Recitals of statutory possessory interests are not availing where all seizures involve items of possessory interest.