Opinion | Can Judge Cannon Preside Fairly Over the Trump Trial?

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To the Editor:

Re “Judge’s Record in Trump Case Raises Concern” (front page, June 15):

Judge Aileen M. Cannon has no business presiding in the documents case. A case of this gravity and importance to the country clearly requires a much more experienced, skillful and unquestionably fair-minded judge.

The ethics law for federal judges and a related rule in the Southern District of Florida require a judge to recuse herself if a reasonable person might have cause to question her impartiality. She is flouting such clear and vital rules if she fails to recuse herself and jeopardizes making the trial into an even more fraught national controversy.

Judge Cannon has already been reversed twice and rebuked by a conservative appeals court for previous rulings in an earlier stage of the case, after she made rulings that were legally incorrect and showed blatant favoritism toward Donald Trump. She cannot be viewed by reasonable Americans as competent enough or unbiased.

As judge, she can work to slow down the trial, make rulings favorable to Mr. Trump’s defense with a questionable legal basis, and even take a guilty verdict and apply no prison time to Mr. Trump despite the guidelines. We cannot tolerate the risks of such a perversion of justice.

T.R. Jahns
Hemet, Calif.

To the Editor:

I was as disgusted as anyone by Judge Aileen M. Cannon’s ruling last year awarding Donald Trump a special master to review documents seized by the Justice Department. But I’m equally unhappy with the liberal media coverage of her over the last few days, portraying her as woefully inexperienced in criminal matters and as a Trump lackey who will let him off the hook in one way or another.

I’m not saying she’s the ideal choice. Only that news outlets should make a fair presentation of all the facts. She was a federal prosecutor for seven years. Does that not qualify one as experienced in criminal proceedings? Is there not a chance that the slap on the wrists she received from the appeals court might make her bend over backward this time to appear impartial in order to preserve her reputation?

What about the fact that she was rated “qualified” by the American Bar Association at the time of her appointment, and was confirmed by a vote of 56 to 21, including 12 Democrats? That she possesses a B.A. from Duke University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan?

I think it would be appropriate for her to recuse herself based on the appearance of bias she has created, along with the fact of being a Trump appointee. But responsible news media should not descend into panic and hysteria. We liberals have no right to criticize the polarized state of American politics if we refuse to examine and report on both sides of any given issue fairly.

Steve Benko
Southport, Conn.

To the Editor:

We should think very carefully about whether Judge Aileen M. Cannon has a conflict of interest in adjudicating a criminal matter involving the president who appointed her. While other judges have presided over cases involving the presidents who appointed them, this one presents unprecedented issues of law, politics and legal ethics.

Especially at a time when conflicts questions have arisen about our highest-ranking judges, we should doubt the impartiality of an inexperienced judge who was promoted from obscurity by this defendant, through a system of political loyalties. At a minimum, for this most important case, we should err on the side of caution and reassign the case.

Let’s get this right, rather than having to learn from our mistakes.

Ron Meyers
New York
The writer is a lawyer.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Novel, Self-Censored

To the Editor:

Re “Best-Selling Author Delays a New Novel She Set in Siberia” (Arts, June 14):

Delaying the publication of Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel simply because it’s set in Russia is wrong on so many levels — ethically, intellectually, pragmatically.

I don’t doubt her sincerity in believing that this move would be welcomed as noble. But like so many other countless examples of this type of performative virtue signaling, it actually demonstrates the exact opposite of what was intended.

Self-censorship in this way is illiberal, infantilizing and intellectually bankrupt. But perhaps most unforgivable, especially for a novelist, it is totally lacking in any moral imagination.

Mark Bessoudo

‘Doing the Work,’ Whatever It May Be

To the Editor:

Re “‘Doing the Work’ and the Obsession With Superficial Self-Improvement,” by Jessica Grose (Opinion newsletter, nytimes.com, June 3):

Much of this article resonated, but the judgment of those naming — and promoting — “the work” left me curious about the broader implications for our culture.

As a woman in my early 40s who has lived with mental health issues since my early 20s, I am committed to the cringe-worthy phrase because for me, the work is necessary.

The article misses the complexities of why some people share (or not) about their mental health journeys, and the role of community. Increasing evidence shows that to combat loneliness and mental health problems facing adults and children, Americans need to deepen social connections and a sense of community. The recent surgeon general’s report on the epidemic of loneliness and isolation offers evidence supporting the risks.

Let us not let nomenclature create another barrier to acknowledging that sharing takes courage and that courage has led to a healthier dialogue around mental health issues.

As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, turning outward to community while doing our personal work — however we name it — may be what is needed to feel less alone, more connected and alive.

Lindy Mockovak
San Francisco

Drop the Honorifics

To the Editor:

I think it is time for you to think about how your journalists refer to people using the binary Mr., Mrs. and Ms., with an occasional use of Mx. This doesn’t happen in every article, so that is appreciated. However, I think it would be more respectful if that distinction could be eliminated from all reporting.

In my opinion, this is antiquated reporting, which is unlike the progressive viewpoint that I think of when I consider The New York Times. I would suggest that you simply use last names on second reference, without distinguishing them in the binary.

I believe that this would be more respectful of all. When these binary distinctions are used, there is an “othering” that makes it more difficult for those who are just trying to be themselves who don’t fit into those categories.

Paula Wilder
Greensboro, N.C.

‘Above the Law’

To the Editor:

I am tired of hearing and reading the phrase “No one is above the law.” Anyone living in America knows very well that certain classes of people are, and have always been, above the law.

In the town in which we formerly lived, young white people caught in possession of drugs were slapped on the wrist and sent home. Minority group members in the same situation are arrested.

The ability to hire high-priced lawyers has also put some people above the law. Let’s be honest: A quick look in the mirror will reveal the hollowness of that phrase.

Herb Steiner
Mahwah, N.J.

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