Georgia Judge Rules Trump, 16 Others Will Be Tried Separately From Powell, Chesebro

The judge presiding over the Georgia election interference case has ruled that Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell will not be tried alongside Donald Trump and the other sixteen co-defendants.

“Defendants Chesebro and Powell will join each other at trial, however, the other 17 defendants are severed from these two. Additional severances may follow. All pretrial deadlines will proceed as scheduled without a stay of proceedings,” Judge Scott McAfee at the Superior Court of Fulton County wrote in a ruling issued on Thursday.

The Judge remarked that Mr. Chesebro and Ms. Powell had both exercised their right to a speedy trial, resulting in the action taken.

This has complicated District Attorney Fani Willis’ plan to hold a trial for all eighteen co-defendants on October 23rd, which legal experts have labeled an ambitious endeavor.

Judge McAfee recently commented on the difficulty of presiding over multiple defendants simultaneously, as reported by The Washington Post.

Five have requested to have their cases transferred to federal court, two requested a speedy trial, and the majority asked for their cases to be separated from those of co-defendants.

“It just seems a bit unrealistic to think that we can handle all 19 in 40-something days,” he said.

Trump has made attempts to delay all four of his criminal cases. This recent maneuvering could mean that a trial will not occur until after the November 2024 election, despite Georgia charges being ineligible for presidential pardon.

With McAfee soon announcing a date for the Trump case in Georgia, it is evident how defense strategies are impacting this timeline.

Five of the 19 co-defendants have submitted motions to move this case from state court to federal court, which could drag out the proceedings significantly.

Meadows’ request was denied by a federal judge on Friday, however, he straight away filed an appeal with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The judge has not yet made a decision regarding the other requests

. McAfee has expressed his concern that the removals would make it difficult to carry out Willis’ intention to try all defendants in state court next month.

Some legal experts believe that if one defendant’s petition is approved, then the charges against the others will be automatically moved as well.

What would happen if the case is moved after the trial has started was a concern raised by McAfee at the hearing.

“Where does that leave us in the middle of a jury trial?” McAfee said. “Is double jeopardy attached? Have you now risked your entire prosecution because this case has now been removed to federal court? And we’ve sworn in a jury that has been presenting evidence against all these other co-defendants.”

MSNBC host Ali Velshi asked network legal analyst Glenn Kirshner, “What is the basis of arguing that severance in a case like this is improper?”

“So, Ali, anytime we indict a co-defendant case, the prosecutors have a keen interest in keeping all defendants in the same trial,” Kirschner said. “The defendants ordinarily have a keen interest to try to get themselves removed from, or severed out, of the joint trial. Why is that? Because any time co-defendants are tried separate from their fellow co-defendants — and I’ve had this happen many times as a prosecutor — they will make what they call ‘the empty chair defense.’”

“So I can almost promise you that one of, for example, defendant Chesebro’s defenses, if he is sitting there, either alone or maybe with Sidney Powell and one or two other co-conspirators, charged co-defendants, I can almost see him saying, ‘You know what? John Eastman, the constitutional scholar, the law school Dean, who should be sitting in that empty chair right there, but he’s not. He is the true architect behind the alternate electors scheme because he assured me there was legal support for it,’” Kirshner continued.

The legal analyst further suggested that this could potentially result in at least one juror having reasonable doubt, which could lead to a hung jury and no decision being made.

Additionally, Kirshner predicted that numerous co-defendants will likely assert their inability to adequately prepare for trial by the 23rd of October.

“It will be really interesting now to see what Judge [Scott] McAfee does now that Willis is prepared to give everyone their speedy trial,” Kirschner added.

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Craig Bushon

Craig Bushon

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