Aileen Cannon – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida

39-year-old AUSA Aileen Cannon is President Trump’s fifth nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and would be the first woman to join the court under his tenure as President.

Background

Aileen Cannon received her B.A. in Public Policy Studies from Duke University in 2003 and her J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 2007.  In between undergraduate and law school, Cannon spent two years as a paralegal with the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.  After receiving her J.D., Cannon clerked for Judge Steven Colloton on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

After finishing her clerkship, Cannon became an associate with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  In 2013, she became a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, where she continues to work there to this day.

History of the Seat

Cannon has been nominated for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.  This seat opened when Judge Kenneth Marra moved to senior status on August 1, 2017.  

Legal Experience

Cannon’s legal career can be divided into two primary segments: working as an associate at Gibson Dunn, and being a federal prosecutor.  In the former role, Cannon primarily practiced civil litigation.  However, in the latter capacity, Cannon developed most of her legal experience, working with the Major Crimes division on criminal prosecutions and appeals.  Among her more prominent cases, Cannon prosecuted perpetrators of identity thefts who were rampant throughout Southern Florida.[1] 

Cannon currently works with the appellate division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Among the more prominent appeals, Cannon has argued successfully that evidence obtained against a defendant through a wiretap was consistent with the Fourth Amendment.[2]  Cannon has also been called upon to defend sentencing decisions made by U.S. District Court judges, including decisions which have been reversed by the Eleventh Circuit.[3]

Overall Assessment

As of this point, the Trump Administration has made an art form of finding attorneys who barely squeeze in under the twelve year practice requirement that the American Bar Association seeks for judges. Cannon, while still under forty, has practiced for approximately twelve years (including her clerkship) and has experience with civil and criminal litigation.  As there are few controversies in her background, she will likely be confirmed comfortably for the federal bench, and will be a prime candidate to fill a Florida vacancy on the Eleventh Circuit in the future.


[1] See Press Release, Office of the U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Florida, Defendants Charged in Separate Fraud Schemes That Resulted in Thousands of Identities Stolen and Used to Commit Fraud Crimes, US Fed News, Apr. 9, 2015.

[2] See United States v. Maxi, 886 F.3d 1318 (11th Cir. 2018).

[3] See, e.g., United States v. McCloud, 818 F.3d 591 (11th Cir. 2016) (reversing sentencing for treating prior armed robbery convictions as separate offenses under the Armed Career Criminal Act).  See also United States v. Charles, 757 F.3d 1222 (11th Cir. 2014) (reversing application of sentencing enhancement to increase sentence).

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