Florida-based federal Judge Aileen Cannon asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to justify its continuing use of a District of Columbia grand jury in hopes of laying additional charges in the case about former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified government records at his Florida home.
Using the work of a grand jury in one jurisdiction to indict a defendant out-of-state isn’t necessarily unconstitutional, but it is unusual, a legal expert told The Epoch Times.
The records case is being heard in the judge’s courtroom in Fort Pierce, Florida.
DOJ special counsel Jack Smith has brought 40 federal felony counts in Florida for the allegedly illegal retention of U.S. defense information related to 337 documents with classified markings, obstruction, and lying to the government.
The indictment for the obstruction counts was announced in late July and came after the bulk of the counts had already been made public. The former president allegedly engaged in obstruction by directing that security footage from his residence at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, be deleted.
The District of Columbia grand jury indicted Mr. Trump for his alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Mr. Smith is also overseeing that prosecution.
Mr. Trump was indicted earlier this year in Judge Cannon’s district, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, for multiple felony counts related to his handling of government records at Mar-a-Lago.
The 45th president is accused of violating the federal Espionage Act and other federal statutes for allegedly conspiring to obstruct justice, make false statements, and conceal documents. The indictment states that Mr. Trump stored classified documents in unauthorized locations at his home, including in his bedroom, a bathroom, and a ballroom. Mr. Trump also allegedly shared some of the materials with other individuals who lacked security clearances.
In an Aug. 7 order, Judge Cannon directed the DOJ to “address the legal propriety of using an out-of-district grand jury proceeding to continue to investigate and/or to seek post-indictment hearings on matters pertinent to the instant indicted matter in this district.”
The court imposed a deadline of Aug. 22 for the government to respond.