While District Attorney Fani Willis had hoped to bring all of the RICO defendants to trial together this October, that is not going to happen, a court ruled Thursday.
Trump Will Not be Tried in October
It’s unclear which of Donald Trump’s criminal cases will go to trial first, but it won’t be next month.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had pushed to try Trump, as well as his other defendants, in October. Different defendants have filed motions to sever their cases from the others, for speedy trials, or to move their cases to federal court.
Now, we know Trump will not be tried in October.
According to CNN, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee has ruled that the first two defendants, lawyers Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, will go on trial in October, with the trial set to begin on October 23.
The judge called separating the cases “a procedural and logistical inevitability,” and added that “additional divisions” could happen later, per ABC News. The judge also ruled that other defendants, if they do not waive their right to a speedy trial, will join the October trial.
“The precarious ability of the Court to safeguard each defendant’s due process rights and preparation ensures adequate pretrial preparation on the current accelerated track weights heavily, if not decisively, in favor of severance,” the judge added.
There were also logistical reasons for the decision.
“Beginning with the logistical concerns, the Fulton County Courthouse simply contains no courtroom adequately large enough to hold all 19 defendants, their multiple attorneys and support staff, the sheriff’s deputies, court personnel, and the State’s prosecutorial team,” Judge McAfee wrote in his ruling. “Relocating to another larger venue raises security concerns that cannot be rapidly addressed.”
A trial date was not set for Trump and the other defendants, but those defendants cannot be tried prior to December, per the schedule put out as part of the ruling.
It’s also possible, per CNN, that the Georgia case could run into the schedules of Trump’s other criminal trials. The federal election interference case, in Washington, has a set trial date in March 2024, while the other federal case, involving his handling of classified documents, is set for May of next year.
“Fulton County DA Fani Willis’ politically motivated, wrongful attempt to deny President Trump due process of law by arguing that no severances should be granted has been summarily squashed by the court,” a Trump spokesperson told CNN. “Willis’ unjust rush to judgment in order to please her radical political base has simply failed.”
Trump and the other defendants were indicted in August under Georgia’s RICO statute, with the former president personally charged with 13 counts. Following the indictment, the former president’s allies in Congress announced an investigation into Willis. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, described it as “an “unprecedently brazen and unconstitutional attack by members of Congress on an ongoing New York State criminal prosecution and investigation of former President Donald J. Trump.” Jordan had taken similar action after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted Trump earlier this year, leading to a lawsuit from Bragg.
“I don’t know what Jack Smith is doing, Jack Smith doesn’t know what I’m doing. In all honesty, if Jack Smith was standing next to me, I’m not sure I would know who he was. My guess is he probably can’t pronounce my name correctly,” Willis said, of charges from Jordan and others that she and the special counsel were working together on their prosecutions of the former president.
Trump has also called to dismiss the charges directly, as he has done in several of the other cases.
The former president has also called to remove the judge in the Washington case, alleging bias in some of her past rulings in January 6-related cases.
A Washington Post analysis described those comments by the judge as “somewhat unremarkable in context” and “more of a messaging exercise than anything else.”
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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