Top Judge Blocks Complaints Against Trump Judge Aileen Cannon

Chief Judge William Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has blocked new complaints against U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is overseeing one of former President Donald Trump’s criminal cases. This decision follows a flood of over 1,000 complaints received by the circuit court’s clerk since May 16, 2024, all raising similar allegations.

Judge Pryor, appointed by former President George W. Bush, indicated in his May 22 order that the complaints appeared to be part of an orchestrated campaign. Judiciary rules allow judicial councils to manage such situations by limiting the number of essentially identical complaints accepted for filing.

Judge Pryor recommended to the council that it instruct the circuit clerk to cease accepting additional complaints against Judge Cannon, and the council agreed. Consequently, Judge Pryor entered an order on behalf of the council to this effect.

Federal law permits individuals to file complaints against judges for judicial misconduct, which includes treating litigants in a demonstrably egregious manner or making inappropriately partisan statements. However, many complaints against Judge Cannon, appointed by Trump in 2020, stem from dissatisfaction with her rulings in Trump’s case, which concerns his handling of sensitive documents.

Judge Pryor reviewed and dismissed four of the complaints against Judge Cannon, stating they lacked sufficient evidence of misconduct. He noted that many complaints alleged improper motives or delays but were speculative and unsupported by evidence. Additionally, complaints about judicial decisions or delays generally do not constitute misconduct unless there is evidence of an improper motive or habitual delays across unrelated cases.

Judge Cannon has faced criticism for rulings that have delayed the trial against Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including Espionage Act violations and obstruction. For instance, she directed Trump to respond to a government request for a gag order by June 21, after the special counsel’s team sought immediate restrictions on Trump’s communications.

Judge Pryor emphasized that Judge Cannon’s orders are subject to review by the appeals court. In 2022, Judge Pryor was part of a panel that overturned Judge Cannon’s order preventing federal authorities from reviewing documents seized from Trump’s Florida resort, citing her lack of jurisdiction.

This decision underscores the challenges and criticisms faced by the judiciary amid high-profile cases and the mechanisms in place to ensure judicial integrity and accountability.