Legal experts have stated that it is unlikely that former President Donald Trump’s four separate criminal trials will take place prior to the general election in November 2024.
Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, has been indicted four times on state and federal charges in New York, Florida, Washington, D.C., and Georgia. Despite objections from Trump’s legal team, prosecutors in each jurisdiction have been pushing for a quick trial since his initial court appearances. According to experts, it’s likely that the trials will take place after the general election.
Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, told the Daily Caller: “They’re trying to get convictions before the election. But they can’t get it done in two weeks, they know it will take longer than that.”
Dershowitz’s remarks are in reference to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s initial attempt to schedule the start of the latter trial for January 2, 2024, two weeks prior to the Iowa Caucuses. Smith is prosecuting Trump in Miami and Washington, D.C. Trump has requested that the trial be continued until April 2026.
In the meantime, a federal judge in Florida has tentatively scheduled the start of Trump’s trial in Smith’s other case for August 14, 2024. In this case, Trump is accused of breaking the Espionage Act by refusing to turn over classified documents that he kept at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, while he was president.
The start date of Trump’s Georgia trial has been requested by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to be March 4, 2024. Willis’ office moved for the trial to start on October 23, 2023, after one of Trump’s co-defendants, Kenneth Chesebro, asserted his constitutional right to a speedy trial.
In opposition to Willis’ request, Trump submitted a motion on Thursday. Legal experts believe that it is unlikely that any of Trump’s trials will begin before November 5, 2024, when the general election is held, due to the complexity of the case and others Trump is facing as well as the likelihood of appeals to pre-trial proceedings.
“It seems unlikely that most [trials] will proceed as scheduled. There are threshold challenges and dispositive motions that will have to be addressed. Some may involve appeals,” said Jonathan Turley, the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro professor of public interest law at The George Washington University Law School.
He added: “These dates seem highly optimistic and a tad opportunistic by prosecutors.”
According to a judge’s oral order, Trump’s trial date has been set for March 25, 2024 in New York, where he is facing 34 counts of indictment for allegedly falsifying business records relating to his $150,000 payment to Stormy Daniels through his former lawyer Michael Cohen.
By that date, all but four states will have held their presidential primary contests, according to 270ToWin.com.
“It’s like asking a brain surgeon to perform an operation with three days’ notice,” Dershowitz said, adding that prosecutors are trying to obtain “convictions [of Trump] before the election … it’s a rush to injustice.”
Dershowitz added that the courts will “probably need at least a year” in order to dispose of all pre-trial matters.
These issues consist of jury selection, motions to exclude evidence, interlocutory appeals by either party to the trial judge’s rulings, and “discovery,” which refers to the defendant’s efforts to gather evidence from the prosecution and build a defense.
“Jury selection alone in Georgia’s cases will take several months,” Dershowitz said, adding that “if [the courts] don’t accept the discovery timeline of Trump’s team, these are issues that could be appealed.”
“If Trump loses his motions, he will appeal. If he loses at the appellate court, he’ll ask to be heard before the Supreme Court. If there’s a ruling in favor of Trump, the state will likely appeal,” said Ronald Carlson, the Fuller E. Callaway professor emeritus at the University of Georgia School of Law.
According to a filing made by Trump’s attorneys at the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia on August 17 opposing the special counsel’s proposed trial date, Trump’s team is aware of this fact and has invoked his criminal proceedings in other jurisdictions to request later trial dates.
“President Trump must prepare for each of these trials in the coming months. All are independently complex and will require substantial work to defend … these cases will include numerous pre-and-post trial hearings,” they wrote.