Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has proposed that former President Donald Trump and the 18 other defendants involved in the post-2020 election racketeering case filed in August be tried together next month. However, lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, who were also indicted with Mr. Trump, have requested for their cases to be separated from the others and tried separately.
It is expected that this situation may prove challenging for Ms. Willis as she moves forward in her role as District Attorney.
Newsweek noted: “On Wednesday, Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee will oversee a hearing on whether Chesebro and Powell can have their cases tried independently. Judge McAfee has asked Willis’ office to prove a good faith estimate on how long it may take to present the state’s case during a joint trial of all 19 defendants, as well as the number of witnesses likely to be called and the size of the evidence likely to be introduced.”
“In a series of posts on X, formerly Twitter, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman suggested that Willis will have a problem either way with an estimate, seeing as her previous major RICO trial involving dozens of educators in Atlanta accused of cheating on standardized tests lasted several months,” the outlet added.
“If Willis comes in with an estimate along the lines of previous trials—8 months or more—it will basically blow to smithereens the scheduling of the various trials,” Litman wrote. “And hard to see how she can provide a ‘good-faith’ estimate that’s way lower than the previous RICO.
“Recall that the best precedent—RICO for teachers—took some 8 months to try (and months before to pick a jury). If she gives a similar estimate, everything gets blown apart; if she doesn’t, questions will be why this one [is] so much shorter,” Litman added. “Seems to me McAfee has to finesse this and not clear exactly how he will. Big hearing.”
Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to face multiple trials in 2024. On March 4, he will be tried on four charges related to the events leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot following a federal investigation by special counsel Jack Smith.
Additionally, there are 34 counts against him in New York concerning claims of falsified business records relating to “hush money” payments made to Stormy Daniels and his trial for these charges is due to begin on March 25, 2024.
In May, Trump is set to stand trial in Florida on allegations of unlawfully retaining classified documents after leaving office and obstructing federal efforts to recover them. He has entered a plea of not guilty for all charges across all four cases.
It is yet to be determined if the planned trials must be rearranged due to the possible large scale of Willis’ case involving the former president. Additionally, it remains unclear whether or not the commencement of the Georgia trial will be postponed until after all other three legal proceedings are completed, or if it will commence alongside them.
This situation has caused a stir in conservative circles as many Republican voters and critics have criticized the Biden administration as well as both Democratic prosecutors in New York and Georgia for allegedly targeting Trump for political reasons and attempting to remove him from the ballot.
“We are in completely new territory if a sitting president is convicted of crimes he committed before he was elected president, which will be the case here,” Eric J. Segall, professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law and a constitutional expert, previously told Newsweek.
“There’s nothing in the Constitution about this. There’s very little case law about this. We’ll have to see. There’s no way to predict how that would play out. No way,” he added.