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Judge Aileen Cannon, Donald Trump

Mar-a-Lago judge declines to hear legal arguments from ‘activists from progressive issues’ who say case against Trump is ‘a waste of money and miscarriage of justice’

Left: Judge Aileen Cannon (Senate Judiciary Committee via AP); Right: Donald Trump visits Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in July 2023 (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents case issued a rare denial to two women seeking to file a pretrial brief as would-be amici curiae or friends of the court.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has been mostly permissive when it comes to pretrial briefs, including friend-of-court briefs, in the case — only denying four prior individuals an opportunity to opine about various legal issues. Meanwhile, well over two dozen others have been allowed into the case — with many of those amici slated to appear and give oral arguments during a hearing later this month.

On Friday, the court declined to allow another such nonparty filing. The rejected brief was submitted by Jessica Nan Berk and Hilda Tobias Kennedy, pro se litigants who describe themselves as elderly, “indigent, private citizens,” and “renowned activists for progressive issues and disabled rights” as well as “victims of discrimination.”

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    “We would want the Court to respectfully see that the funding the state has used, legal or not, to prosecute the Defendant is disproportional to the acts for which others in his same category and class have gone unpunished for the same crime as explained by the Defendant filings without the semantics by the opposition,” the brief reads. “Furthermore, our interest is in the misuse of government funds that do not support the people’s interest of justice but is more political in nature.”

    Berk and Kennedy, in other words, argue that Trump is being treated unfairly by the government for what they view as minor crimes — and say the funds being used to prosecute the case are a waste.

    “In contrast, funding is greatly needed for crime against seniors and the disabled, veterans, the elderly, abused children/adults, etc, and the Department of Justice is grossly failing to use the people’s money where it matters,” the brief reads.

    More Law&Crime coverage: Constitutional lawyers ask Judge Cannon to let them back special counsel Jack Smith’s authority to prosecute Trump at upcoming hearing

    The brief goes on to argue the Mar-a-Lago case is little more than “costly and dragged out litigation that could be resolved cheaply” with a “fine and community service.” Instead, the barred, would-be amici say, the Department of Justice wants to imprison Trump “only for the period of the election cycle.”

    “We can not, in good conscience, see such a waste of money and miscarriage of justice go without words spoken, as we have suffered greatly from our miscarriage of justice ourselves,” Berk and Kennedy continue.

    Notably, the two filers make no effort to show any direct interest in the case. And, they admit their filing came a few days after the June 3 filing deadline for any given potential amici to step forward and seek leave of court — but argue they are entitled to a “reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    More Law&Crime coverage: Mar-a-Lago judge issues rare denial to potential legal arguments about ‘tyrannical repression’ and the Presidential Records Act in Trump’s classified documents case

    In March, Cannon barred a similarly unrelated amicus request from a man serving a lengthy federal prison sentence for mail and wire fraud. In April, she barred a retired Electrical Engineer who aimed to opine about what he saw as “trends towards” Soviet-like “tyranny” in the United States.

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