Judge Aileen “Loose” Cannon got very peeved in court last Thursday, during a Garcia hearing, which is a procedural hearing that a court conducts with respect to potential conflicts of interest. Cannon is presiding over the classified documents case in which Donald Trump is a defendant. The conflict of interest at issue is the fact that “Defendant Waltine Nauta’s attorney Stanley Woodward Jr. cannot ethically cross-examine his former client known as Trump Employee 4, (Yuscil Taveras, Director of Information Technology at Mar-a-Lago) who will be a significant witness at trial,” according to a supplemental brief which Jack Smith filed Wednesday night.
The issue is that Woodward used to represent “Trump Employee 4” and currently represents “Witness 1″ which complicates the trial vis a vis cross-examination of witnesses — an issue Woodward was minimizing, at the very least, but now that has changed, evidently. Raw Story:
Woodward and his legal team, the recent filing states, appear to be attempting to cede “any cross-examination” when ethical issues arise to “co-counsel.”
Smith appeared to heap praise on another attorney, John Irving, who is representing Mar-a-Lago maintenance man Carlos De Oliveira.
Smith’s filing suggests Irving was on point when he “informed the Court and the Government that he would no longer represent the potential witnesses, and his co-counsel would be solely responsible for cross-examining the witnesses at trial.”
However, Woodward, in contrast, “simply denied that any conflict existed, suggesting that he should be permitted to cross-examine Trump Employee 4.”
👀 Interesting: Special Counsel Smith in his filing notes that courts, when faced with these kinds of ethical situations, “frequently disqualify attorneys even where the attorneys propose that another attorney will conduct the cross-examination of a former client.”
— Katie Phang (@KatiePhang) October 19, 2023
She asked for citations. They were delivered.
— Coalesced (@Coalesced) October 19, 2023
As stated, the cross-examination issue was a “huge sticking point,” the judge asked for citations and now she has them. And frankly, it’s interesting that she even asked for citations because generally speaking, if there’s any potential conflict of interests, attorneys will go ahead and remove themselves from any appearance of impropriety out of an abundance of caution. Nobody wants to be accused of dishonest representation of a client. At the very least, that’s a reputation killer.
You don’t have to be Clarence Darrow to think it a bit incredible that Woodward thinks he can cross-examine his own former client. Or, alternatively, that Woodward thinks that a colleague can cross-examine the same former client. Why even go near something that clearly unethical and wrong? Answer: Trump wants it and he’s paying the freight. That’s the best supposition I can make. Woodward also doesn’t seen to be concerned about having multiple clients testifying against each other, and ultimately against Trump.
It’s also interesting how Aileen Cannon doesn’t seem to see things like conflicts of interest as being all that important. That’s hard to imagine, generally speaking, and in a landmark case like the classified documents one, it’s almost impossible to believe.
But Jack Smith is on top of it, as always.
Here’s an interesting point.
Exactly right. In another trial, turns out Trumps lawyers weren't licensed to practice in that state. It's always a grift
— TeaSpiller (@SpillerofBOCtea) October 19, 2023
I wonder if Woodward would try to delay the trial? Trump wants delay on all his trials. He wanted Tanya Chutkan to delay her election interference trial until after the election, as you recall. So maybe that’s the plan, Trump paying the lawyers to just stall everything out as much as possible.
I repeat Andrew Weissman’s take from a few days ago: “while government papers could have spelled things out more, Judge Cannon ignored thinking about the facts and issues before her, and so was surprised when the government raised matters that frankly would be fairly obvious to a more seasoned jurist.” It’s pretty obvious to everybody, seasoned jurist or no. Err on the side of caution and you can’t go wrong.
But then this is the judge who has been caught making rookie mistakes, like failing to put “Not Guilty” on a jury form, which resulted in the dismissal of a case.
Let’s see what happens Friday. This is definitely an interesting development.