Trump indictment: Who is Aileen Cannon, the judge expected to oversee Trump trial?

MIAMI — Now that Donald Trump has been arraigned Tuesday in a Miami federal court on 37 charges related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents, the presiding judge for his trial is expected to be a judge nominated by the former president in November 2020.

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The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Fort Pierce-based judge, according to the Miami Herald.

A resident of Vero Beach, located about 90 minutes north of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Cannon, 42, has been the least senior federal judge for the U.S. Southern District of Florida, according to Treasure Coast Newspapers. Five of the 16 active judges in the district have been appointed by Trump, the news outlet reported.

In September 2022, Cannon was the presiding judge in a civil case involving the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach a month earlier. Her ruling on Sept. 5, granted Trump’s request for a special master to review documents obtained during the search, The New York Times reported. She also ordered the Justice Department to suspend its criminal investigation during the review, according to the newspaper.

Cannon’s decision slowed down the investigation, but a federal appeals court reversed her ruling, the Post reported.

It is unclear whether Cannon will remain as the judge on the case after Trump appears in court on Tuesday, the Herald reported. She was randomly assigned to the case, according to the newspaper.

Here are some things to know about Aileen Cannon:

Early life

Aileen Mercedes Cannon was born in Cali, Colombia, in February 1981, and grew up in Miami, according to the Times. Her mother fled Cuba as a young girl after Fidel Castro’s 1959 Communist revolution, while her father’s family hails from Indiana, according to the newspaper.

She attended Ransom Everglades High School, a private school in Miami, where in 1998 she was named a scholar finalist in the National Hispanic Recognition Program, according to Miami Herald archives. She played water polo for the Raiders and was a girls’ honorable mention selection for the All-Dade team in 1998. In 1997 she was named a girls’ honorable mention in swimming on the All-Dade team.


Cannon graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Duke University in 2003 and earned her juris doctor the University of Michigan Law School in 2007, according to The Hill. As an undergraduate at Duke, she worked in Miami one summer for the Herald’s Spanish-language newspaper, El Nuevo Herald, The Washington Post reported.

According to the Miami Herald, Cannon, on her judicial application, listed 20 items that were published in El Nuevo Herald. Three were scholarly in nature and 17 were short news items published during the summer of 2002, the newspaper reported. Headlines included “Tomatoes may help reduce tumors,” “The Atoms Family: An Exhibition about Energy,” and “Prenatal Yoga: A Healthy Alternative for Delivery.”

Cannon joined the Federalist Society, a conservative organization, while attending law school, the Post reported. During her Senate confirmation hearing, Cannon said she was attracted to the organization by its discussion of “the limited role of the judiciary to say what the law is -- not to make the law,” according to the newspaper.

Legal background

After law school, Cannon clerked one year for Steven M. Colloton, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in Des Moines, Iowa, the Post reported.

Cannon moved to Washington, D.C., to become an associate attorney at the corporate law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, according to The Hill. She worked there for three years before taking a job as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, the Times reported.


Cannon, who was nominated by Trump to the federal bench, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in November 2020, according to the Miami Herald. Cannon, who at the time was an assistant U.S. attorney based in Fort Pierce, Florida, was confirmed by a 56-21 vote, a number that included 12 Democrats and 44 Republicans voting for confirmation, the newspaper reported.

“Ms. Cannon is a highly qualified individual, and I am confident that she will serve Florida’s Southern District honorably,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said at the time.

High-profile cases

Before last year’s case involving Trump, Cannon has presided over high-profile cases. In April 2022 she sentenced 60-year-old Paul Hoeffer to 18 months in prison for making threats against then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, according to The Hill.

Hoeffer had pleaded guilty two months earlier to interstate transmission of threats to injure, and admitted to threatening to kill Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez in March 2019 and November 2020.

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