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Judge signals she’ll hold Mar-a-Lago trial in “solid Trump country”

Donald TrumpChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Trump-appointed judge overseeing the Mar-a-Lago documents case signaled that she will hold his trial in a court likely to have a conservative jury pool, according to The New York Times.

Judge Aileen Cannon signaled that the trial would take place in the Fort Pierce courthouse where she normally sits, according to the report. The region that feeds potential jurors to the courthouse includes one swing county and four deep red counties that overwhelmingly voted for former President Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020.

Cannon did leave open the possibility that the trial could be moved but legal experts say the location could provide Trump a favorable jury pool.

“For years, it’s been a very conservative venue for plaintiffs’ lawyers,” Florida trial attorney John Morgan told the Times. “It is solid, solid Trump country,” he added.

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The region includes Okeechobee County, where Trump won 71%. Of the vote in 2020; Highlands County, where the former president received 67% of the vote; Marin County, where Trump won 62% of the vote; and Indian River County, where Trump got 60% of the vote.

But St. Lucie County, where about 172,000 votes were cast, only went to Trump with 50.4% of the vote.

Dave Aronberg, the Florida state attorney in Palm Beach County, told the Times that the Fort Pierce counties provide a “much more conservative jury pool” but added that a number of jurors could be drawn from St. Lucie, which is more politically diverse.

Cannon signaled in an order on Tuesday that the trial and related hearings would be held at the Fort Pierce courthouse, about 120 miles north of Miami. But she left open the possibility of moving the trial, noting that “modifications” could “be made as necessary as this matter proceeds.”

While Trump’s arraignment took place in Miami, where the magistrate judge assigned to his case sits, it “became her prerogative to move it to Fort Pierce,” the Times reported, where she is the sole district judge.

But Aronberg predicted the trial could be moved to the courthouse in West Palm Beach, which is the county where Trump lives and stashed the classified documents he’s charged with illegally retaining.

“I’m not convinced this case is going to go in Fort Pierce,” he told the Times.

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Politico reporter Josh Gerstein added that if Cannon “does plan to do Fort Pierce” it’s unlikely special counsel Jack Smith’s team would object “because they have to take [the] position that their case is so strong they can win anywhere.”

The evidence in the trial was first heard by a grand jury in D.C., where Trump has complained he could not get a fair trial. The case was later relocated to South Florida, where the alleged crimes took place.

In order for Trump to be convicted, all 12 jurors must unanimously find him guilty, meaning he could be acquitted if a single juror disagrees. But Trump also faces 37 felony counts, including 31 under the Espionage Act.

George Washington Law Prof. Jonathan Turley, who has frequently defended Trump against legal troubles in the past, warned that the former president has “got to run the table” in the case.

“All the government has to do is stick the landing on one count, and he could have a terminal sentence,” he told Fox News last week. “You’re talking about crimes that have a 10- or 20-year period as a maximum.”

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