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Judge Cannon Changes Her Mind and Agrees to Redact Witness Names in Trump Documents Case, But She Won't Redact What They Say

Fort Pierce - Wednesday April 10, 2024: U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon has re-considered her earlier decision and agreed to the Special Prosecutor's request to keep secret the names of potential witnesses in the Fort Pierce classified documents case against former President Donald Trump.

The Judge however defended her previous rejection of the Special Prosecutor's motion to protect the names of witnesses, blaming Jack Smith's team for failing to raise arguments "that could have, and should have, been raised in prior filings."

That's just a "preliminary point" wrote Judge Cannon who went on to write - "Nevertheless, the Court exercises its discretion to reconsider its ruling in light of the Special Counsel’s newly raised arguments."

The prosecution had asked the Judge to redact the names from any evidence Trump's lawyers may seek to introduce at trial, arguing that publicizing witness identities could subject those potential witnesses to threats, intimidation, or harassment.

In granting the Government's request, Judge Cannon made another preliminary point writing - "Although the Special Counsel’s request remains sweeping in nature as applied to all potential government witnesses without differentiation," and "the Court was unable to locate another high-profile case (in publicly available records) in which a court granted a broad-based pre-trial request" similar in nature.

Despite those reservations, Judge Cannon concluded that "the Court is satisfied that the Special Counsel has made an adequate showing." She went on to order the Special Counsel to submit "the name of each potential government witness and a corresponding pseudonym/anonymization for use in the redactions."

Judge Cannon also granted the Special Prosecutor's request to seal so called Jencks material, "in limited part." Jencks Act material consists of police notes, memoranda, reports, summaries, letters, and other material related to Trump's indictment. The Special Counsel argued that sealing that material is necessary "because of witness safety concerns and so as to not influence the testimony of other witnesses or the jury pool.”

However, the statements made by any of those witness will not be redacted, concluded Judge Cannon - "The Court exercises its discretion to decline the Special Counsel’s wholesale request to seal non-identifying substantive witness statements, for which no particularized factual or legal support has been presented."

Last week, after coming under heavy criticism from the Special Counsel, Judge Cannon finally issued an order rejecting the defense argument that the Presidential Records Act entitled Trump to declare secret government owned records his their own personal records. However the Judge has yet to set trial date in the case.