Low-key judge Aileen Cannon is a resident of Vero Island – 32963 Features, 32963 News
Aileen M. Cannon was not yet 40 when the federal prosecutor won decisive bipartisan support in a bitterly divided U.S. Senate to claim a seat on the U.S. District Court for South Florida.
The profile of this young conservative lawyer – who lives in Vero’s South Beach – soared last week after she interfered in the Justice Department’s investigation into the former’s possible mishandling of classified information. President Donald Trump and accepted his request for an independent review of documents that FBI agents had seized.
Cannon’s controversial decision, which she called necessary to “at least ensure the appearance of fairness and integrity in extraordinary circumstances,” temporarily barred investigators from using documents removed last month from her residence of Mar-a-Lago.
The government later said it would appeal the decision.
With less than two years on the bench, Judge Cannon does not have a full case to review. The Trump dispute has brought it to light while presenting untested questions about the extent to which assertions of executive privilege — typically invoked by sitting presidents to protect sensitive communications from disclosure — can be applied to former occupants of the White House in conflict with their successors.
Cannon did not respond to a request for comment and declined Vero Beach’s interview request 32963.
Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida whose office asked Cannon to run for judge in 2019, rejected any suggestion that his decision in the classified documents case was politically motivated and noted the support that Cannon had hosted Senate Democrats.
Twelve voted in favor of his confirmation.
“Judge Cannon is a great judge whom I am very proud to have enthusiastically supported,” Rubio said in a statement. “The attacks on her are just the latest example of hypocrisy from leftists and their ombudsmen who think the only time it’s okay to attack a judge is if that judge is speaking out against what they want. .”
Cannon’s confirmation hearing took place six months after the coronavirus pandemic began, in July 2020, and she appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee via Zoom. She had the support of the Cuban-American Bar Association, which praised her “temperament and academic credentials” and highlighted her “legal spirit and behavior”.
By choosing Cannon, the group told lawmakers, “you improve diversity on the bench and help nominate a great candidate for the job.”
In follow-up questions, Democrats pressed Cannon about his record as a prosecutor, his judicial philosophy and his membership in the Federalist Society, the conservative organization that has played a major role in advising Trump on his judicial choices.
In response to Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.), Cannon said she considers herself an “originalist” and a “textualist,” referring to methods of legal interpretation that look to the general understanding of the Constitution at the time it was written. , an approach most often associated with the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Cannon quoted Elena Kagan, the liberal judge who joked during her confirmation hearing, “We’re all originalists.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) asked Cannon specifically if she had any discussions during the nomination process about “loyalty to President Trump.”
“No,” Cannon replied in writing.
In a questionnaire Cannon completed for the Judiciary Committee, she listed her place of residence as “Vero Beach” and further research showed that she indeed resides in 32963 within the city limits of Vero.
The property records of state and federal judges, as well as some other court officers and law enforcement officials, are sealed, but voter records show Cannon and her husband Joshua Lorence are residents of the island.
A decade after getting married in Coconut Grove in June 2008, the couple bought their Vero Beach home, records show. Although it’s Cannon whose career is in the spotlight now, foodies might say that her husband, Lorence, has the most intriguing – and probably funniest – job as a corporate director for the restaurant chain. of burgers from chef Bobby Flay called Bobby’s Burger Palace.
According to their marriage license, they were living in Chicago at the time of their Miami nuptials. It’s unclear what or who drew them to Vero, whether Cannon or Lorence have close family in the area, or whether they’ve just come to enjoy the low-key island lifestyle.
Many of Cannon’s court proceedings take place a short drive from her Vero home at the Alto Lee Adams, Sr. United States Courthouse in Fort Pierce, where she serves as the only federal judge.
In addition to the Trump case, Cannon is presiding over a federal antitrust lawsuit filed by the City of Indian River Shores against the City of Vero Beach regarding Vero’s claim to a permanent sewer service area. That dispute is still ongoing and is due for trial in January, although Cannon recently denied Vero’s motion to dismiss the case.
Cannon was one of 14 confirmed candidates after the November 2020 election, amid the tumultuous aftermath of Trump’s defeat. In four years in the White House, he installed more than 200 federal justices, including three Supreme Court justices.
Until last week, one of Cannon’s most high-profile cases in 20 months on the bench involved the conviction of a man who pleaded guilty to uttering death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN. Y.).
In a separate case in April, one of Cannon’s new judicial colleagues accused Trump of buying judges for Cannon by filing a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and former FBI agents in the Fort Pierce division of the court. Trump’s suit instead landed with a judge appointed by President Bill Clinton.
The Mar-a-Lago search case was assigned to Cannon, in accordance with court procedures, after Trump filed a lawsuit in West Palm Beach.
Cannon, now 41, was born in Colombia to a Cuban immigrant mother and raised in Miami. She spoke at her confirmation hearing about the lasting influence of her mother, who at age 7 “had to flee Castro’s repressive regime in search of freedom and safety”.
“Thank you for teaching me the blessings of this country and the importance of safety and the rule of law for generations to come,” Cannon said.
As a teenager, she graduated from Ransom Everglades, an exclusive private school in Miami, and then attended Duke University. During her undergraduate studies at Duke, she worked one summer for Miami’s Spanish-language newspaper, El Nuevo Herald, writing on a variety of topics, including flamenco and prenatal yoga.
While at the University of Michigan Law School, she joined the Federalist Society because, as she explained in response to Senate questions, she enjoyed the “diversity of legal viewpoints” and discussion of the “limited role of the judiciary to say what the law is”. – do not lay down the law.
Prior to joining the bench, Cannon spent much of her career in the courtroom as a litigator. She was a law clerk for appeals court judge Steven M. Colloton, who was on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court picks, and a three-year DC partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. .
In 2013, as the newest prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida, Cannon handled major crimes, including drug, gun, and immigration cases. Shortly after joining the Appeals Division, Cannon was tasked with defending the government’s conviction in a complex, large-scale fraud case. She was confronted by an experienced appellate attorney and appeared before a three-judge panel at the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
Richard Klugh, the veteran lawyer on the other side, was impressed.
“She was up against an old man with an extremely complicated case in a big case, but she seemed to handle it with ease,” Klugh said in an interview. “She is fast, talented and brilliant. There is no way around it. She is very efficient.
Cannon prevailed, upholding the conviction of a Florida lawyer in the life insurance program that affected thousands of investors.
Howard Srebnick, a Miami attorney who attended the same high school as the judge, was also on the opposite side during Cannon’s tenure as prosecutor and now has a case pending before her.
In court, Cannon is polite and process-oriented, he said, asking lots of questions while ensuring litigants can fully express their views. Srebnick submitted a letter to the Senate in support of Cannon’s nomination, signed by more than a dozen private Ransom Everglades High School alumni who are also attorneys.
She has “strength of character,” the letter says, describing Cannon as “personable and trustworthy, a genuinely caring person who treats others as she would like to be treated herself.”
In June, Cannon ruled against Srebnick’s client, upholding the government’s decision to freeze the defendant’s bank account in a Medicare fraud case.
“She clearly spent considerable time and thought deciding the question presented,” Srebnick said. “We just don’t agree.”
Srebnick, however, said he agreed with Cannon’s decision to appoint a special counsel in the Trump case, even though the Justice Department said it has already set aside potentially privileged cases.
“She is absolutely correct that a special master, not a government-run screening team, should handle these materials,” Srebnick said. “No one from the government should review a client’s communications with an attorney.”
Cannon’s decision may not be the final word. Last week, the Justice Department asked the judge to reconsider and temporarily suspend part of his order before formally asking the appeals court to intervene.
Ann Marimow writes on legal affairs for The Washington Post. A version of this profile first appeared in this post. Several staff writers contributed to this expanded story.