Aileen Cannon, who clearly should not have been appointed to the judiciary, omitted "not guilty" as an option that a jury can find a defendant. Cannon's error may free a man from prison, as the jury instruction form she provided did not offer that as an option. To her credit Cannon did verbally instruct the jury as to the possibility, but her paperwork creates grounds for appeal.
"How far does somebody have to go to school to say that a verdict form is supposed to say guilty and not guilty?" asked defense lawyer Jeffrey Garland. "That would be one of the more egregious versions of jury instruction error… it's such a rare error."
Garland formally filed an appeal on Thursday and hopes to overturn a case that's as black-and-white as they come—on a technicality.
"This is the judge's deal. This is nobody else's deal. I'm gonna tell ya, I've done a lot of appeals, and I've got a pretty good winning record. This is a great issue," he said. "For a guy who's on tape throwing a chair in court, it's pretty 'not good' behavior. It would have been simple. You have a trial, properly instruct a jury, give them a form, and the jury's gonna do what the jury's gonna do."
Cannon's short and controversial history on the bench is under a microscope, given that she is presiding over such an historic criminal trial: that of a former president facing prison time for mishandling classified records at Mar-a-Lago and lying to the feds in a coverup. Trump himself appointed her in his final months in office, yet she has not recused herself from the case.
Cannon is definitely struggling in a job where you need to be perfect on day one. She was supposed to have learned in jobs with less responsibility.