Court Battles

Supreme Court declines to hear case on DOJ ‘filter teams’ used in Trump search

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case about whether the Justice Department (DOJ) can use “filter teams,” such as the one enlisted by the DOJ to begin a review of evidence collected at former President Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago to determine whether they are privileged.

The Justices denied a writ of certiorari in Korf v. United States, which questioned the legality of “filter team” protocols that allow teams of federal prosecutors and agents not assigned to a given case to review seized documents claimed to be privileged before the privilege question has been resolved.

The DOJ used a filter team to begin a review of the evidence collected during the execution of a search warrant at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence before Trump successfully pushed for a “special master” to review the documents he said were privileged.  

FBI agents at the Palm Beach, Fla., resort recovered classified documents taken from the White House and kept past the end of Trump’s time in office.

The former president’s defenses for how and why the documents ended up at Mar-a-Lago has shifted, but one of his claims stymying DOJ review of the materials is that the documents contain privileged information.

In Korf, a “filter team” of DOJ attorneys reviewed materials seized during an investigation before a court had responded to claims of privilege on those documents.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit allowed the protocols to proceed without requiring the filter team to show that an exception to privilege may have applied to the documents.  

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