Saturday, 26 August 2023

Judge approves quick trial date in Georgia RICO case for one defendant — and it could help Trump's defense

 A Georgia judge on Thursday approved an Oct. 23 trial date for Kenneth Chesebro, one of the 19 defendants in the Georgia racketeering case.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee set the date after Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) filed a motion requesting thatall 19 defendants in the case, including former President Donald Trump, begin trial on Oct. 23. She submitted that request after Chesebro invoked his right to a speedy trial, a request to which Trump's lawyers strongly objected

Importantly, Chesebro is the only defendant in the case awarded expedited proceedings — at least for now.

"At this time, these deadlines do not apply to any co-defendant," McAfee said in a court order.

In a statement, Chesebro's attorneys said their client "will be prepared to move forward with trial on whatever date the court ultimately sets."

The fact that Willis and her team of prosecutors now face the prospect of multiple trials — at least two, but potentially more — could help Trump and his co-defendants. 

That is because, according to CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig, Trump's attorneys will get an inside look at the prosecution's case as it unfolds at Chesebro's trial, thus giving them more time to prepare a robust defense. 

"What do you do if you're Trump's team? You sit back, you watch every minute of that first trial, you see all the government's witnesses, you see them cross-examined, you take notes," Honig explained. "It's like seeing the other team's playbook opened up in front of you."

When exactly Trump or the 17 other defendants will go to trial remains unknown. Ultimately, that decision rests with Judge McAfee. Still, the earliest likely date will be sometime next year.

None of the other defendants have invoked their right to a speedy trial, plus each will need a reasonable amount of time to prepare for trial. The court system will also need to litigate complex legal issues that arise between now and then, such as the requests by three defendants (so far) to move their cases to federal court.

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