A state judge Thursday rejected prosecutors’ request to try all 19 defendants together in the Georgia 2020 election interference case next month.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled Thursday (Sep. 14) that trials for Trump and 16 co-defendants will move forward on their own schedule, though he didn’t set trial dates, The Hill reports.
Two of the 19 defendants, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, asked the court for a speedy trial, which the judge granted.
Willis argued that her office and the county court system could manage a trial of all 19 defendants together and pointed out drawbacks to holding multiple trials.
“Realistically, holding three or more simultaneous high-profile trials would create a host of security issues and would create unavoidable burdens on witnesses and victims, who would be forced to testify three or more times on the same set of facts in the same case,” Willis wrote.
McAfee disagreed, writing that the Fulton County Courthouse lacks large courtrooms to accommodate all 19 co-defendants, their legal teams, prosecutors, court personnel and others. “Relocating to another larger venue raises security concerns that cannot be rapidly addressed,” he added.
He doubted Willis’ office could handle a large trial without taking prosecutors and resources away from other cases. “We must consider the ripple effects of a months-long, multi-defendant trial on the local criminal justice system,” McAfee wrote.
CNN reports that McAfee didn’t schedule a date for Trump’s trial but set a pretrial motions deadline of Dec. 1, which means it is unlikely that the former president will face a jury until well into 2024, given his other criminal trials in federal court and New York.
Trump, who has a significant lead over other GOP presidential candidates, wants to delay all four criminal cases until after the November 2024 election.
In August, Willis filed criminal charges against Trump and his co-defendants under a statute that prosecutors typically use against mobsters running a criminal enterprise. She alleges that Trump and his co-conspirators attempted to reverse the former president’s election loss in Georgia illegally.
In an infamous January 21 phone call, Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to “find” enough votes to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory. Trump’s team also allegedly pressured some Georgia lawmakers to ignore the will of voters and appoint a different slate of electoral college electors who favored Trump, among other illegal actions.
All defendants have pleaded not guilty to the combined 41 charges they face.
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