Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is likely in for a rough time after claiming she wants to put former President Donald Trump and the 18 other co-defendants on trial at the same time next month in a massive post-2020 election racketeering case filed in August.
After suggesting that her office will be ready to begin the trial on Oct. 23, Trump lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, who were indicted with him, have petitioned a court to have their cases severed from the others and tried separately.
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.”
Trump’s calendar for 2024 includes three upcoming trials. On March 4, the former president is set to face four charges linked to the events leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot following the federal investigation by special counsel Jack Smith. Additionally, Trump is confronted with 34 counts in New York pertaining to accusations of falsifying business records in relation to “hush money” paid to Stormy Daniels, with the trial scheduled for March 25, 2024.
In May, Trump is slated to commence his trial in Florida, where he faces allegations of unlawfully retaining classified documents after leaving office and obstructing federal efforts to recover them. Trump has entered a plea of not guilty to all charges across all four cases.
It remains uncertain whether any of the planned trials will need to be rescheduled to accommodate Willis’ potentially extensive case involving the former president. It’s also unclear if the Georgia trial’s commencement will be postponed until the conclusion of the other three legal proceedings or if it will proceed concurrently.
The cases are likely to produce another historic first: A leading presidential candidate who has been convicted of criminal activity in the run-up to the election.
Republican voters and other critics have ripped the Biden administration and both Democratic prosecutors in New York and Georgia, accusing them of targeting Trump for political purposes and to keep him off 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.