Federal Judge Pauses Trump Jan. 6 Case

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
December 13, 2023Trump Indictment
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Federal Judge Pauses Trump Jan. 6 Case
Former President Donald Trump speaks to the media while attending his trial in New York State Supreme Court in New York City on Dec. 7, 2023. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has paused court proceedings in the election case against former President Donald Trump, pending his appeal to dismiss the case entirely based on presidential immunity.

“The court agrees with both parties that Defendant’s appeal automatically stays any further proceedings that would move this case towards trial or impose additional burdens of litigation on Defendant,” she wrote. “The court hereby stays the deadlines and proceedings scheduled by its Pretrial Order.”

Judge Chutkan clarified that this would pause the pretrial deadlines, not vacate them.

“If jurisdiction is returned to this court, it will—consistent with its duty to ensure both a speedy trial and fairness for all parties—consider at that time whether to retain or continue the dates of any still-future deadlines and proceedings, including the trial scheduled for March 4, 2024,” the order reads.

The pause on proceedings doesn’t lift the gag order or protective order over classified materials, she noted. Neither side had argued over pausing these orders. A separate appeals court panel had previously narrowed the gag order while reiterating its necessity.

“Nonetheless, if he asks the court reviewing his immunity appeal to also take temporary jurisdiction over the enforcement of those measures, and that court agrees to do so, this court, of course, will be bound by that decision,” the judge wrote.

Appeal in Progress, Trial Delay Likely

Last week, President Trump changed the playing field in the case when he appealed Judge Chutkan’s denial of his motion to dismiss based on presidential immunity. The same day, defense attorneys filed a notice of appeal and a motion to stay proceedings in the district court because an appeals court decision could throw out the case.

But even if the appeals court didn’t rule in President Trump’s favor, it would have thrown off the district court schedule.

President Trump’s attorneys haven’t kept their wish to move back the trial date secret, arguing multiple times for a delay, largely due to the large amount of discovery material—some 13 million pages—they plan to review.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have argued that it’s of paramount importance that the case goes to trial soon, and this week, they pushed three separate courts to affirm a March 4, 2024, trial date. With Judge Chutkan’s latest ruling, that effort has now landed flat in the district court.

In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has agreed to hear President Trump’s appeal, prosecutors have requested the appeal be heard on an expedited schedule so that the case may yet be on track for a March 4, 2024, trial.

In the U.S. Supreme Court, the prosecutors have asked for an immediate review of President Trump’s presidential immunity defense so that it may inform the appeals court decision in a timely manner and allow for a March 4, 2024, trial date.

Defense attorneys have denounced this repeated reference to a March 4, 2024, trial in the prosecution’s recent court filings, arguing that their rationale shows “strategic gamesmanship” rather than “reliance on the law.”

With the pause in the district court pretrial schedule, it’s almost impossible that a March 4, 2024, trial start will occur, even if both the appeals court and Supreme Court act on an emergency schedule. The pretrial schedule is already tight, as Judge Chutkan has previously allowed minor schedule delays without moving the trial date.

Also likely to affect President Trump’s case is the Supreme Court’s acceptance of a case challenging the obstruction charge used in hundreds of cases related to the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol breach.

The DOJ had charged nearly 330 defendants and President Trump with obstruction as of Dec. 6.

President Trump was charged in August with several counts related to obstruction of the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. A grand jury indicted him for obstruction of an official proceeding, attempting to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, among other counts.

President Trump’s campaign issued a statement claiming victory.

“This is a big win for President Trump and our rule of law, as it derails Deranged Jack Smith’s rush to judgment strategy of interfering in the 2024 Presidential Election in support of Joe Biden’s campaign,” spokesperson Steven Cheung stated.

Joseph Hanneman contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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