It may be unfeasible for prosecutors to try former President Donald Trump and all his 18 co-defendants together in the Georgia case against him, a judge presiding over the case has suggested. The prosecutors may thus be forced to try their case at least twice.
The case was brought on Aug. 14 by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. She alleged that the efforts of President Trump and more than a dozen others to challenge the results of the 2020 elections amounted to a criminal enterprise.
The prosecutors initially asked for the trial to start on March 4, 2024, but moved the date to Oct. 23, 2023, after co-defendants Kenneth Chesebro, former lawyer to President Trump, and Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who challenged the 2020 election, asked for speedy trial.
The judge, Scott McAfee, previously approved the Oct. 23 trial date for Mr. Chesebro, but not for the other defendants.
Lawyers for other defendants have indicated that they won’t be ready for trial by that date.
President Trump’s lawyers filed a motion on Aug. 31 to have his case tried separately from Mr. Chesebro and Ms. Powell because the expedited trial schedule would “substantially” affect his ability to get a fair trial.
In addition, the judge said he expects a flurry of pre-trial issues that will need to be litigated and mentioned the fact that several defendants have asked to have the case removed to federal court, and while those requests are pending, the case can't proceed to judgment.
During a Sept. 6 hearing, the judge gave the prosecutors until Sept. 12 to flesh out for him some issues regarding the removal proceedings' effects on the case.
Also during the hearing, the judge denied the request of Mr. Chesebro and Ms. Powell to have their trials separated from one another. Instead, he put Ms. Powell on the same Oct. 23 trial schedule as Mr. Chesebro.
While the prosecutors still push to have all 19 defendants tried on that same date, the judge said he was “very skeptical” about that plan, indicating that the two defendants may need to be tried separately.
The prosecutors have vehemently opposed that eventuality, arguing that they would need to present the same exact case repeatedly because a racketeering conspiracy allows them to use evidence of the entire conspiracy against each defendant.
They expect that the trial will take four months, excluding jury selection, and involve more than 150 witnesses for the prosecution alone.
Lawyers for Mr. Chesebro and Ms. Powell argued that a joint trial would be prejudicial to their clients because they weren’t involved in most of the activity alleged in the indictment.... (Read more)
Submitted 172 days ago