The Adventures of The Special Master

A week ago Trump’s legal team requested that a Special Master be appointed to go through all those legal documents and see where the FBI overstepped its legal bounds.

I love when things like this come up. I’ve never in my life heard of a Special Master. You’d think that this would warrant an explanation from the news outlets, but if there have been any, I’m not aware of it. They do as they always seem to, simply reporting on this new development as if it’s perfectly reasonable and familiar part of our Federal Government.

If you want to, you can go to the usual go-to, Wikipedia

To me, Special Master sounds like a character out of the comic books. Maybe Dr. Strange had to deal with The Special Master . He sounds like a counterpart to The Ancient One. Maybe you got to be a Special Master by attending all the highest Law Schools in the land and defeating their Learned Counsels. The Special Master sounds like the kind of guy (or gal) who could fabricate loopholes to let Hoggoth or Dormammu through.

I can see a comic book now – The Special Master vs. The Bad Actor.

To me it sounds like a term of affection in a sadomasochistic relationship.

They had a Special Master in the OJ trial. He took possession of a package alleged to contain a knife that produced speculation about it being the knife used to kill Ron and Nicole. I don’t recall if the package was ever opened.

This tme it’s bullshit of course.There’s no reason for this to be done. You or I could not hold up a legal proceeding just to ask for someone else to review the evidence collected in a search.

There was a pretty high profile use of a special master a little over a year ago when the seized Giuliani’s phones and such. Since he was an attorney, they needed an independent third party to sort through the info to separate out privileged information.

That was a matter of attorney client privilege. Trump is not an attorney, there’s no legal matter involved here, and no reason the current judge couldn’t rule on any matters of evidence.

I don’t understand what’s going on with this judge or federal magistrate or whoever is making the decisions. Forcing the government to release the affidavit was wrong (but at least he let the feds block out the really damaging info), and I don’t see any reason for there to be a special master here, since no one is alleging there’s any privilege involved.

Trump could definitely have documents in his possession that are covered by attorney client privilege. He’s not an attorney, but he employs several, and his communications with them are covered by attorney client privilege.

They are definitely alleging privilege.

Some examples from the latest filing:

According to the Government, during the approximately nine-hour search, the agents seized documents — including privileged and potentially privileged materials—and other items, like photos and handwritten notes.

This Court’s authority to appoint a Special Master to oversee the review of potentially privileged material is well established.

Trump’s lawyers do appear to be a little confused as to whether they are asserting attorney client privilege or executive privilege, which is pretty amusing.

Haha! Excellent. I don’t think he still has executive privilege.

“He’s just privileged, Your Honor.”

This is what’s getting on my last nerve about this. It’s a delay tactic just the same as trump has done in all the other legal proceedings he’s ever been involved in, designed to make his opponent give up or, in this case, drag it out until he’s in power again.

Why on earth is this trump-appointed judge even allowed to entertain this time waster? AIUI she’s not even the judge in the main case. And she IS entertaining it, which worries me greatly.

If I’m ever a party to a legal proceeding, do I get to file motions with a random judge other than the one I’ve been assigned? Come ON.

ETA: trump’ll probably get to choose a crony to be his Special Master, ensuring that all of the documents will be deemed privileged and therefore returned to him. Proceedings cancelled, exonerated, witch hunt!

The DOJ can exclude any materials addressed to Trump’s attorneys. I will need some convincing that the subject of a search can start declaring materials to have attorney-client privilege at random. These documents were also available to be seen by others so such privilege probably doesn’t exist at all.

The court assigns the position, Trump doesn’t get to pick the person.

I wonder if that holds true if the very judge he’s appealed to is more or less a crony?

For a second when I read the title I thought this thread might be about Cecil, but he’s The Perfect Master, right?

This, in a nutshell, is what bothers me about this.

I don’t care if a special master is appointed. It’s not a frequent occurrence, but it happens in cases for various reasons. In my own former career, I can think of 2 cases where a judge I worked with appointed a special master. In the first case, because the defendant was a lawyer, and a special master was needed to review documents to determine if they were covered under attorney-client privilege. In the second case, much complex accounting was required. The judge wanted the assistance of a special master to make sure he understood what exactly was going on.

So special master, no big deal. It shouldn’t take long to determine what if anything falls under attorney-client privilege. As for executive privilege, that is held by Joe Biden, and he has already waived it.

But on what authority is this Trump-appointed judge hearing this matter at all? She briefly asked about this when the motion was filed, then in practically the blink of an eye, issued a statement that she was inclined to appoint a special master. Is judge-shopping a thing, now?

Trump won’t be able to choose the special master. It must be a person agreed upon by both parties, and they must be qualified to view all the documents – meaning hold top clearances. But were I the prosecutor in this case, I’d first challenge the authority of this judge to hear the matter at all.

According to this article, this might just be a formality.

Legal experts said the very provisions Cannon asked of the Justice Department ahead of the hearing could render the need for a special master moot by the time the parties appear before the judge. For instance, federal prosecutors could indicate that the government review is nearly complete. And it may provide such a specified accounting of the documents taken that the judge herself could assess whether they belong to the government.

“There’s already been a team reviewing this for almost three weeks now. You don’t collect this stuff to let it sit there and not get started. There’s public pressure on them,” said Mary McCord, who served as acting assistant attorney general for national security during the Obama administration.

The government could report that it is far along in its review, she added, rendering an evaluation by a special master too late.

And you can’t have just anyone doing the job.

“It’s going to have to be somebody with expertise and experience in classified and national defense information. Those people don’t grow on trees,” said Stanley M. Brand, a defense attorney who focuses on representing clients involved in government investigations. “They are either former-somethings in the government or lawyers with a lot of experience in those issues. But that will be a contested issue as well. Once again, we’re on the frontier.”

That might be coming. And as you suggest, this is likely out of the judge’s jurisdiction, so it might not happen.

Former Justice Department official Andrew Weissmann, who served as senior prosecutor in Robert S. Mueller III’s special counsel investigation, said it is not clear that Cannon’s court should maintain jurisdiction in the matter given that the documents in question are in the federal government’s possession in Washington and are no longer in south Florida.

Thank you for clarifying that for me, that at least the prosecutor has to agree on who is chosen.

And that even though I’m most definitely not a lawyer, I’m not too far off on questioning the judge shopping. I hope the prosecutor can question this.

No, you’re not.

The Trump-appointed judge initially asked the Trump team to submit something that explained what authority she had to hear the matter at all. So far as I’m aware, I don’t believe they’ve submitted anything in response. And then, on Saturday, she issues a statement that she intends to rule in accordance with what Trump’s lawyers are asking for.

Ummm, wut? Does the prosecution not have a say? And under what authority is she acting, anyway?

Thank you for your post as well. This helps clarify things for me as well. I just panic and imagine trump getting to hold up this proceeding forever, as he has done in so many other lawsuits, and imagine this special master issue taking eons to resolve OR trump gets to pick Bill Barr or some other corrupt hooligan lawyer who thinks trump is god.

And I kinda want to see Judge Cannon get slapped down a peg or two. I would have thought it wouldn’t take very long for someone to say, “Not yo’ jurisdiction!” But not sure how that works.

I think the DOJ has to object, and it looks like she moved so fast to approve that they haven’t even had a chance for an initial response. This could be as simple as the feds saying, “No, you can’t do that.” And then it’s done.