U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s decision came after Trump’s legal team and the Justice Department both approved Dearie’s appointment – originally made by Trump – to analyze seized records for material potentially privileged.
Lawyers and litigants who have appeared before Dearie describe him as an independent, thorough, and impartial jurist who is adept at dueling sides. As much as any judge placed in this difficult position, they say he is up to the task.
“He is one of the few judges before whom both sides want to appear. He is held in high esteem by lawyers. He’s someone who actually listens to lawyers and considers what they have to say before making a decision,” said Lindsay Gerdes, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn.
Sean Hecker, an attorney at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP who has had several cases before Dearie (including one pending) said much the same. “He is independent-minded, extremely intelligent and wise. It’s hard to imagine a more qualified person for this difficult mission.
Dearie is a former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, a position he held from 1982 to 1986. He served as Chief Judge of the Eastern District from 2007 to 2011. He remains an active judge at senior status, which means that he has a reduced status. workload.
He also served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for seven years – where he was one of the judges who signed the warrants the FBI used to surveil 2016 Trump campaign aide Carter Page. in an investigation into Russian election interference.
Federal investigators later determined that an FBI attorney altered an email used to support the surveillance request — something Trump used to discredit the entire investigation — though a judge assigned to the case FBI attorney’s subsequent criminal acknowledgment that the request could have been granted anyway.
Some documents seized at Mar-a-Lago were marked “FISA,” indicating they relate to intelligence from foreign sources, according to an affidavit in the case.
“He works incredibly well with parties, but doesn’t tolerate nonsense,” said Richard Garbarini of Garbarini Fitzgerald PC. “He will not allow parties, or lawyers, to play games or play by the rules.”
While few, if any, cases match the stakes and plot of the Mar-a-Lago investigation, Dearie has a few high-profile cases under her belt. These include the corruption trials of several officials from FIFA, the world’s football governing body.
He also oversaw a court battle during the 2017 New York mayoral race. Former New York City Councilman Sal Albanese failed to meet the polling and fundraising thresholds to be admitted to televised debates, and he sued the city’s campaign finance board for an injunction so he could take the stage. But Dearie said the finance council’s criteria were not partisan, subjective or discriminatory.
Albanese did not prevail, but walked away with a positive impression from the judge.
“I think he’s a fair man, even though I lost this case. He is obviously very capable,” he said in an interview. “His temperament was excellent and he was thoughtful. He asked a lot of good questions. Very balanced.
Trump’s prosecutors and lawyers each presented Cannon with two options as candidates for the job: Dearie and Paul Huck Jr., a Florida attorney with significant ties to figures in Trump’s orbit.
The Justice Department nominated Barbara Jones — a former federal judge and Bill Clinton nominee who served in the same role as special master in three other sensitive investigations — and former federal appeals court judge Thomas Griffith.
Trump’s team opposed both choices while the DOJ said Huck was not acceptable because he had never served as a judge.
Alexander Coleman, an employment law attorney who has had several cases before Dearie – including a high-profile case where an NYPD police officer alleged workplace retaliation after reporting co-workers who tried to blame him for the Another detective’s sloppy investigation – said he was impressed with the judge.
“He took a very difficult and thorny problem and he unraveled it and came to the right result,” he said. “He’s very thoughtful and very contemplative.”
Dearie is a graduate of St. John’s University Law School and has also worked as a lawyer in private practice. He is originally from Rockville Center on Long Island.
The judge did not respond to a request for comment.