DOJ Proposes System for Special Master Review of Mar-a-Lago Documents

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, who was overheard to serve as an independent third party to review documents seized by the FBI during a search of the former president’s residence and resort, attorneys for Trump to a non-public draft plan for the review that Dearie circulated among the parties ahead of a status conference scheduled for Tuesday.

The draft plan, according to Trump’s letter, “requires the plaintiff to disclose specific information related to declassification to the court and government.”

“We respectfully argue that the time and place for affidavits or statements would be in connection with a motion under Section 41 specifically alleging that declassification is part of the property restitution argument,” the letter reads, referring to some sort of motion that can be filed calling for the return of property that has been unlawfully seized during a search.

“Otherwise, the Special Master process would have compelled the plaintiff to fully and specifically disclose a substantive defense of a subsequent charge without such requirement becoming apparent in the court order,” the Trump team’s letter continued. .

In her ruling last week rejecting the prosecutors’ request for a postponement, Judge Aileen Cannon ordered that the special master review — conducted by Dearie and involving approximately 11,000 documents — be completed by the end of November. The preparatory conference is scheduled for Dearie on Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.

In their file, the former president’s lawyers also expressed concern about the draft plan’s apparent proposal to have Rule 41’s motions litigated in court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, the judge who issued the FBI’s search warrant. approved. The Trump attorneys argued that Cannon, a Trump appointee who appointed the special master, planned to have that trial happen through the special master trial, with Dearie’s recommendations eventually reported to her.

Trump’s attorneys also suggested in their letter to Dearie that some of the interim deadlines set in the draft plan be pushed back.

“While we are concerned about the inclusion of two aspects in the draft plan (timing of any declassification disclosures and briefing regarding return to the issuing magistrate), we otherwise generally agree with Your Honor’s proposed sequencing, but propose to deal with the possible deadlines tomorrow status conference,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

In a separate filing on Monday, the Justice Department proposed a system that would allow the special captain to review documents seized from Trump’s Palm Beach residence and resort.

To ensure that both the Trump team and prosecutors can evaluate the evidence at the same time, the prosecutors suggested in the filing that the documents be uploaded to a third-party online platform.

The Justice Department suggested that the third-party vendor would “batch out” documents on a rolling basis as they are scanned for both prosecutors and Trump’s defense team. The attorneys would have to search about 500 documents each business day, DOJ said.

When the review began, prosecutors suggested that Dearie hold “weekly reviews” with both parties to “solve questions and ensure the review process runs smoothly.”

The department also said it would propose a protective injunction for Cannon’s approval, making the leakage of details from the seized collection punishable by contempt of court “or any other legally available sanction that the court deems appropriate”.

In its filing, the DOJ noted that if the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals grants its request to block portions of Cannon’s order that require a special captain, Dearie will not be allowed to review the more than 100 marked documents.

“If the Eleventh Circuit does not suspend its review of the classification marking documents, the government will propose a way forward,” the prosecutors wrote in the file.

This story was updated Monday with additional developments.

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