Former President Donald Trump handily won the state of Florida in 2020. Now, that could work to his advantage when it comes to his federal trial for allegedly mishandling classified documents.
A new report details how the jury pool will come primarily from counties that Trump handily won in the 2016 and 2020 elections, which could work to his advantage when the trial begins on Aug. 14.
Additionally, the federal judge hearing the case is Aileen Cannon, whom Trump appointed. The judge has signaled that the trial would take place in Fort Pierce, the federal courthouse where she usually sits, at the northern end of the Southern District of Florida.+
“That decision means Trump’s jurors are set to be drawn from the most brightly red corner of a vast court district, plucked from a community that leans heavily Republican—instead of the highly populous and more Democratic urban areas further south. Cannon, the Trump-nominated judge who court officials said was selected at random to hear the case, is the only one of the Southern District of Florida’s 26 active judges assigned in Fort Pierce,” The Daily Beast reported.
“If her palm tree-lined courthouse in that city is the site of what may be the most politically significant trial in American history, the proceedings will take place 70 miles north of the oceanside mansion where Trump amassed sensitive national security documents without permission—even though the West Palm Beach federal courthouse is down the street,” the outlet added.
“You drive around, and you’ll see ‘Trump’ flags and ‘Make America Great Again’ flying in front of houses,” said Paul Bernard, a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Pierce. “With Trump’s trial down this way, he’s going to have a bunch of supporters—and they’re going to make their way onto the jury panel.”
The Daily Beast report continued: “It’s solidly MAGA country: all five counties voted heavily in favor of Trump in the 2020 election he ultimately lost, with Okeechobee topping out at 72 percent. Across the board, the former president nabbed 62 percent of the vote on average. In increasingly Republican South Florida, Trump already had a good shot at landing a favorable jury. Although Miami-Dade County still leans blue, it has swung heavily toward the GOP, and right-wing extremist groups like the Proud Boys have permeated official party organizations there. Even Democratic strongholds like Broward and Palm Beach counties have become redder in the Trump years.”
“In Highlands, they do dirt bike races. That’s the type of county that is. Super rural,” said Joshua Heller, a personal injury lawyer in the region.
“Overall, the jurors in these five counties are going to be more conservative than your Palm Beach or Dade jurors. And South Florida used to be very blue, but it’s not as blue as it used to be. Things have changed in the past five, ten years. Generally, we’re going to be pretty conservative in this area,” he said.
A separate report from the New York Times notes that the region has one swing county and four solid red ones. But that said, Cannon did leave open the possibility that the case could be moved. If the case remains in Fort Pierce, that will bode well for Trump when it comes time to select a jury.
“For years, it’s been a very conservative venue for plaintiffs’ lawyers,” trial lawyer John Morgan told the Times. “It is solid, solid Trump country.”
“Trump won Okeechobee County, a rural county where just more than 16,000 people voted in the 2020 election, with 71.5% of the vote, according to the county’s election tally. He took Highlands County with 66.8% in 2020. That county is a rural area where more than 52,000 people voted. In Martin County, where more than 98,000 people voted, Trump won with 61.8%. In Indian River County, where more than 97,000 voted, the then-president won with 60.2% of the vote,” Newsmax added in its report. “The swing county of St. Lucie County was one in which Trump won narrowly in both 2016 and 2020. He got 50.4% of the vote in 2020 to defeat President Joe Biden.”
Fort Myers is situated along Florida’s Atlantic coast, about 100 miles north of Miami. Cannon has set the trial date for Aug. 14 “or as soon after that as the case may be called.”