Trump Waives Right to Speedy Trial in Fulton County Election Case

Catherine Yang
By Catherine Yang
September 13, 2023Trump Indictmentshare
Trump Waives Right to Speedy Trial in Fulton County Election Case
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower the day after FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach home, in New York City on Aug. 9, 2022. (David 'Dee' Delgado/Reuters)

Former President Donald Trump waived his right to a speedy trial in the Fulton County, Georgia, case that charged him and 18 others with violating the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) when they challenged the 2020 election results.

Two codefendants have already demanded a speedy trial, and Judge Scott McAfee has ordered their trials to be merged and begin on Oct. 23, the date Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has proposed. The judge said this timeline would not apply to any of the other defendants.

The district attorney’s office has repeatedly pushed to try all 19 defendants together, arguing that as a RICO case the entire case—with an estimated 150 witnesses—would need to be brought forth in full regardless of whether the case goes to trial once, twice, or more times.

On Tuesday, the prosecution again requested the case be tried altogether in a new filing.

Attorneys for President Trump filed in response a waiver to the right to a speedy trial. They had previously already filed to sever his case from the defendants who demanded a speedy trial, writing that they would not be prepared to go to court in just two months.

Fani Willis
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis holds a press conference in the Fulton County Government Center after a grand jury voted to indict former President Donald Trump and 18 others, in Atlanta on Aug. 14, 2023. (Christian Monterrosa/AFP via Getty Images)

One Big Case?

Observers had expressed disbelief when Ms. Willis announced on the day the indictment was handed up that she planned to bring the case to trial within six months. After all, jury selection alone for another RICO case Ms. Willis is prosecuting was taking more than six months.

She initially proposed a March 4, 2024 trial date, the day before “Super Tuesday,” which is now the date a federal judge has set for President Trump’s case, also regarding his challenge of the 2020 election results, to go to trial.

After defendant Kenneth Chesebro, who was an attorney for President Trump when he challenged the election, filed a demand for a speedy trial in August, Ms. Willis put forth the Oct. 23 date, two months from when Mr. Chesebro filed the demand. Lawyers for Mr. Chesebro stated they would be prepared for any date the judge sets.

Defendant Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who separately served as counsel for President Trump when he challenged the elections, also demanded a speedy trial, but filed to sever her case from Mr. Chesebro’s. The acts they were named in, in the 98-page indictment, do not overlap. The acts Mr. Chesebro is included in have to do with organizing an alternate slate of electors, while Ms. Powell’s have to do with investigating the integrity of election voting machines.

During a Sept. 6 hearing, Judge McAfee denied their requests to be tried separately, and they will go to court on Oct. 23.

However, this means the prosecution will have to bring forth their entire case at least twice.

“Evidence against one is evidence against all,” Nathan Wade, Georgia special prosecutor, said during the hearing.They estimated a four-month trial period and 150 witnesses from the prosecution’s side, at which the judge expressed skepticism, adding it could take twice as long as they suggested.

“It just seems a bit unrealistic to think that we can handle all 19 in 40-something days,” he said.

Judge McAfee also noted that there were hearings scheduled for other co-defendants in federal court, and there was a possibility that a federal ruling would render a state ruling moot.

Indeed, defendants began trying to separate themselves in the massive RICO case nearly as soon as the indictment came out.

Co-defendant Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to the president, filed a notice to remove his case to federal court one day after the indictment. The request has since been denied, and he is appealing it in the 11th Circuit. At least three other defendants have filed similar notices, with one upcoming hearing scheduled for former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. Others, including President Trump, have indicated they may seek to do the same.

“It could potentially even be a six-month turnaround just for the 11th Circuit to come up with a decision,” Judge McAfee said of the appeals process. “Where does that leave us in the middle of a jury trial?”

In addition to the removals, several defendants have filed to sever their cases from each other, arguing their charges have nothing to do with some of the codefendants, including those they’ve never met.

Yet other defendants have filed motions to have the case dismissed entirely, with various arguments ranging from attorney Giuliani arguing that the acts listed in the indictment were legal acts of a practicing attorney and not criminal acts, to Mr. Meadows arguing that the actions were taken in his official role as a federal officer and not subject to state law.

From The Epoch Times

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