Expedition upon Expedition: Former President Trump Seeks Supreme Court Intervention to Reverse the Eleventh Circuit’s Intervention in Special Master Proceedings; Department of Justice Seeks to Speed Up Appellate Review

Trump v. United States. No. 22-13005 (11th Cir.); Trump v. United States, No. 22-81294 (S.D. Fla.). Application to Vacate the Eleventh Circuit’s Stay of an Order Issued by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Petition to the Associate Supreme Court Justice of the United States for the Eleventh Circuit submitted October 4, 2022.


Former President Trump seeks the aid of the United States Supreme Court in vacating an order of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit which stayed a lower court’s order.  The lower court’s order precluded the use of documents with classification markings in  a criminal investigation while the documents were under review by a Special Master appointed by the court.  The Eleventh Circuit’s order countermanded that determination which in turn permitted resumption of use of the documents in criminal investigations.

The former president argues that the Eleventh Circuit had no power to rule on the Department of Justice’s request, as the ruling was an interlocutory, or non-final ruling.  Such rulings are not permitted except in limited circumstances.

At the same time, the Department of Justice seeks to press ahead in its request for appellate review of the federal district court’s actions.

 

Application to Vacate Eleventh Circuit Order October 4, 2022

Opposition to Appellant’s Motion to Expedite Appeal October 3, 2022

Motion to Expedite Appeal September 30, 2022

Counsel for Former President Urge Court to Reject Any Notion that Ownership is a Prerequisite to Challenge to Search and Seizure at Mar-a-Lago Residence


Donald J. Trump v. United States, No. 22-81294 (AMC).  Movant’s Reply to United States’ Response to Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief, filed August 31, 2022.  Hearing September 1, 2022 at U.S. District Court in Florida at 1 p.m. 

Counsel for former president Donald J. Trump argue that no precedent exists for the government’s argument that in the absence of a property interest –that interest to be determined by the government — an individual seeking to challenge a search and seizure of his residence has no recourse because, in the absence of a property interest — that interest to be determined by the government — the individual who lacks an ownership interest in materials seized lacks standing to seek review.  In the absence of standing, the court has no power to hear the case.  

The government’s argument, counsel have submitted, has no support in extant Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, which recognizes that it is governmental intrusion that is central to the Fourth Amendment’s restrictions on governmental power.  What is necessary is “a legitimate expectation of privacy in the premises searched or the items seized.” Reply Memorandum at 5, quoting United States v. Rackley, 742 F.2d 1266, 1270 (11th Cir. 1984).   The government’s position is not only in error as a matter of constitutional law, but the government fails to recognize that the question before the court is the propriety of appointment of a Special Master, which is directed to the power of the court to grant equitable relief. 

Counsel for the former president observe that any authority to conduct privilege review presented within the application for the warrant issued prior to the search and seizure at Mar-a-Lago was narrowly constrained a a certain portion of the property, yet as the government insists that its review is complete, it would appear that the government exceeded those bounds. 

The government’s argument that the court ought not insert itself into what has been styled a ‘national security’ review by a government entity cannot succeed.  Power to adjudicate matters relating to governmental exercise of powers is at the core of the need for a federal judiciary.  

Counsel note that the government has not conducted itself with the high standards which it purports to uphold, as evidence by the dramatic — and apparently staged — submission to the court of a photograph showing documents bearing “classified” cover sheets.

The former president is in need of an inventory of items seized in order to assert his interests in materials gathered through use of criminal process in a matter that ought to have been a routine discussion of items sought for a presidential library under the Presidential Records Act.  

Movant’s Reply to United States, No. 22-81294 August 31, 2022

 

United States Avers Evidence Suggesting Former President Concealed Records Required Warrant Authorizing Search and Seizure of Personal Residence

Donald J. Trump v. United States, No. 22-cv-81294 (AMC).

In response to briefing order issued by the federal district court in Florida, the United States alleged today that it sought to obtain judicial authority to search and seize the former President’s residence because, in doubt concerning the completeness of the custodian of records attestation that records provided to the government were complete, that “[t]he government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed from the Storage Room and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.” United States Response to Motion for Judicial Oversight and for Additional Relief at 10.

The United States argues that the former president has no ownership interest in the records seized, as these belong to the United States under the Presidential Records Act. As the former president is perceived to lack any interest in the records seized, he has no standing to contest the seizure.

Neither does the former president have any interest in return of any personal items seized during the good faith execution of a search warrant, as the United States asserts was the case with the search conducted at the former president’s residence on August 8, 2022.

The United States has advised the court that its review of the records seized has been completed, rendering moot the appointment of a special master, the propriety of which the United States contests.

United States’ Response to Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief

Attachment to United States’ Response to Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief

Inclined to Appoint Special Master to Review Mar-a-Lago Materials Seized, Federal Judge demands Status of Review and Itemization of Seized Materials by Tuesday, August 30, with Hearing Set for September 1, 2022.

Donald J. Trump v. United States, No. 22-cv-81294 (AMC) (S.D. Fla). Preliminary Order on Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief entered August 27, 2022.

In the Matter of the Search of Mar-a-Lago, No. 22-cv-81294 (AMC) (S.D. Fla.) Movant’s Supplemental Filing in Support of Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief filed August 26, 2022.

Former President Donald J. Trump has challenged the constitutionality of a search and seizure conducted at his Mar-a-Lago residence on August 8th and has moved the court for the Appointment of a Special Master to manage review of the documents and things seized.  

The federal court in the Southern District of Florida has indicated a “preliminary intent” to appoint a special master, subject to the submission of briefs on August 30 and 31st and a hearing before the court on September 1, 2022 at 1 p.m.

The court has ordered the United States to provide a detailed report of the status of its review of the seized materials as well as a detailed account of what was seized and removed from the Mar-a-Lago residence on August 8.

Supplementing its initial motion to the court, counsel for the former president note that the redacted affidavit supporting issuance of the warrant authorizing the search, released on August 26, provides little insight into any necessity for it, particularly as continuous cooperation had been demonstrated, and particularly as the use of police powers seemed needless where compliance with a civil statute, the Presidential Records Act, was said to be in issue.

Published reports indicate that national security agencies are reviewing materials seized.  Whether review will be said to be complete by the time of this week’s briefing, which could be argued to obviate any need for a special master, remains to be seen.  See Classified Documents Seized from Trump’s Home Undergoing Security-Risk Assessment.  Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2022.  

 

2022 08 27 22-81294 Preliminary Order on Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief

2022 08 26 22-81294 Movant’s Supplemental Filing in Support of Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief

 


 

Redacted Affidavit in Support of Warrant to Search Former President’s Residence Reveals Background Information and Theory Concerning Alleged Presence of Classified Materials But Conceals Details


 

In re: Sealed Search Warrant, No. 22-mj-8332 (BER). Redacted Affidavit in Support of an Application Under Rule 41 for a Warrant to Search and Seize docketed August 26, 2022.


The Department of Justice has complied with the U.S. District Court’s order to file a public copy of the affidavit supporting a search and seizure of former President Donald J. Trump’s residence, which occurred on August 8, 2022.  

 

The Department of Justice has outlined the reasons for the redactions made to the documents, which were reviewed by the court before the affidavit was released.  The federal government sought redactions to protect: 1) witness identities; 2) investigative plans or “roadmaps”; 3) Rule 6(e)[grand jury] materials; 4) law enforcement safety; 5) privacy of involved individuals.

 

The redacted affidavit recites that in January, 2022, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) received fifteen boxes of documents transferred from the former president’s Florida residence.  NARA became concerned because documents bearing classification markings were included in the transmittal, and was also concerned about the organization and presentation of those materials.  

 

NARA contacted the Department of Justice about these concerns, which prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to open a criminal investigation to explore how documents bearing classification markings were removed from the White House, the nature of any storage at the former president’s Florida residence, whether additional materials were stored there, and who was involved in the removal and storage of classified informative in an unauthorized space. 

 

Investigation confirmed the presence of documents marked classified within the transmittal to NARA.  Review prompted the observation that National Defense Information (NDI) was likely within those documents, and that the storage of the fifteen boxes sent to NARA had been at an unauthorized location. 

 

A section of the affidavit provides the caption “There is Probable Cause to Believe that Documents Containing Classified NDI and Presidential Records Remain at the Premises,” but the section is otherwise entirely redacted, with the exception of a recital concerning the location of documents in unauthorized spaces, a reference to ‘violations,’ and a description of the area to be searched.  Concern about the presence of third parties is expressed.  

 

Much of the affidavit recites what the Federal Bureau of Investigation proffers as support in the law for issuance of a warrant to search the former president’s residence and to seize any responsive materials found there, which would include materials believed to be subject to the Presidential Records Act.  

 

The affidavit mentions a published report describing the presence of moving vans at the former president’s Florida residence in January, 2021, and discloses that NARA was advised in May, 2021 that Presidential Records Act materials had been found and were ready to be retrieved. 

 

The affiant reiterates that inventory of the documents transferred to NARA in January, 2022 bore classification markings at high levels of restriction and that those documents were likely to contain National Defense Information (NDI).  

 

Because of believed violations of laws addressing the management of classified information and the belief that materials illegally possess would be found at the former president’s residence, a warrant was sought, with procedural assurances to ensure proper management of seized materials proffered.  

 

Notice of Filing by United States August 26 2022

[Redacted] Affidavit in Support of Application for Warrant Unsealed August 26 2022

[Redacted] Memorandum of Law Supporting Redactions Unsealed August 26 2022

[Redacted] Attachment Itemizing Redactions Unsealed August 26, 2022

 

 

Former President Challenges FBI Raid on Residence, While Magistrate Holds Affidavit in Support of Warrant Must be Disclosed


In the Matter of Search of Mar-a-Lago, 22-cv-81294 (S.D. Fl.).  Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief, August 22, 2022

In re: Sealed Search Warrant, 22-8332 (BER).  Order on Motions to Unseal, August 22, 2022.


Pursuant to a federal warrant, on August 8, 2022, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents searched for and removed materials from former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence.  Subsequently the former president was presented with a list of materials removed.  

Much speculation and discussion has attended this historic use of law enforcement personnel.  

The former president has raised Fourth Amendment challenges to the search of Mar-a-Lago.  Stressing that at all times documents relating to presidential records he was cooperative with federal authorities, he argues that the warrant itself was so nonspecific and overly broad as to offend the Fourth Amendment.

Moreover, the former president has moved for appointment of a Special Master to oversee the review of seized materials, arguing that a “clean team” of federal agents ought not be permitted to unilaterally conduct the review, and further arguing that the ‘receipt’ from the government is deficient in that it fails to describe fairly what was seized, precluding fair challenge to any review or disposition of seized materials. 

Although the scaffolding of the warrant has been disclosed, the affidavit has been withheld by the government, which has cited the personal safety of informants or witnesses and to potential disruption of ongoing investigations and proceedings.  Multiple media defendants have challenged that position, arguing that the public interest in this matter is sufficient to overcome the government’s interest in protecting sources and materials.

The magistrate judge who issued the warrant has agreed with the media intervenors, subject to any appropriate redactions, proposals for which he has invited the Department of Justice to submit by August 25.  

In re Matter of Search of Mar-a-Lago 22cv81294 (S.D. Fla.) Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief, August 22 2022.

In re Sealed Search Warrant 22mj08332 (BER) Order on Motions to Unseal August 22 2022.

Some Friend! Facebook Gun Photo Not Suppressed, Even Where “Friend” Turned Out to Be a Detective

Everett v. Delaware, No. 257.  Supreme Court of Delaware, May 29, 2018.


Everett was indicted for unlawful firearm possession after a detective, using a false profile, became Everett’s Facebook “friend,” which enabled his observations of Everett’s posted media showing his nightstand displaying a gun.  Everett moved to suppress the evidence, claiming that the detective’s monitoring of his Facebook page violated the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court of Delaware rejected this challenge, holding that a Facebook user has no reasonable expectation of privacy that Facebook information will not be passed along.  False friendship, gossip, and unwanted sharing of information are recognized hazards of human social interaction. “Friends” are always free to pass information along, whether or not the disclosing party wishes. The Fourth Amendment does not protect information voluntarily disclosed to an accepted “friend,” whether in person or online.

Similarly, the court rejected the notion that there needed to be evidence of wrongdoing before the detective initiated the ruse:  there is no constitutional protection against a misplaced belief that shared evidence of wrongdoing will not be disclosed.  

Everett v. State (Del., 2018)