For Judge in Trump Documents Case, Unusual Rulings Are Business as Usual

When Judge Aileen M. Cannon presides over a hearing on Friday in former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case, she will spend the day considering well-trod arguments about an arcane legal issue in an unorthodox manner.

It will be the latest example of how her unusual handling of the case has now become business as usual.

Over the past several months, Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in his final days in office, has made a number of decisions that have prompted second-guessing and criticism among legal scholars following the case. Many of her rulings, on a wide array of topics, have been confounding to them, often evincing her willingness to grant a serious hearing to far-fetched issues that Mr. Trump’s lawyers have raised in his defense.

The issue that will be discussed on Friday in Federal District Court in Fort Pierce, Fla., is a motion by the defense to dismiss the charges in the case on the grounds that Jack Smith, the special counsel who filed them last spring, was improperly funded and appointed.

The defense has argued that Mr. Smith was not named to his post by the president or approved by the Senate like other federal officers, and that Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, who gave him the job, had no legal power to do so on his own.

Mr. Smith’s deputies have countered that under the appointments clause of the Constitution, agency heads like Mr. Garland are authorized to name “inferior officers” like special counsels to act as their subordinates.

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