Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building in Atlanta, Aug. 14, 2023.
Joshua Lott | The Washington Post | Getty Images
The Atlanta district attorney prosecuting the Georgia election interference case against former President Donald Trump and 18 others asked a judge Tuesday to order that defendants granted so-called speedy trials be tried together.
Fulton County DA Fani Willis also asked Judge Scott McAfee to set a deadline for defendants in the case to file requests to sever their cases. McAfee has discretion on whether to sever the cases for separate trials.
So far, just two defendants in the criminal case, attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, have asked for a quick trial on racketeering and six other charges they face.
Only Chesebro’s trial has been scheduled so far, for late October.
But defendants soon could make similar speedy trial requests, which would require their trials to begin by Nov. 3.
Trump and several other co-defendants are less likely to want a quick trial on charges related to their efforts to reverse his loss to President Joe Biden in Georgia’s 2020 election.
In her court filing Tuesday, Willis said she opposed, “at this juncture,” severing the cases of defendants so that they would be tried either in 19 separate trials or in smaller groups.
Willis argued, “All Defendants should be tried together, but at an absolute minimum, the Court should set Defendant Powell’s trial and that of any other defendant who may file a speedy trial demand on the same date as Defendant Chesebro’s.”
Chesebro, who was the first to ask for a speedy trial, last week was granted one starting Oct. 23 in Fulton County Superior Court.
Powell, a day after, filed her own speedy trial request. But she has not yet been given a trial start date.
Under Georgia laws, defendants who want one have the right to be tried quickly if they are criminally charged.
If that request is not granted before the court’s next regular term, they are acquitted of any charges.
Willis last week asked McAfee to set trial for all defendants — including Trump, his former lawyer Rudy Giuliani and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — on the same Oct. 23 date Chesebro received.
Trump’s lawyers quickly opposed that request in their own court filing.
McAfee, in setting Chesebro’s trial start date and other deadlines for pre-trial motions, wrote that “at this time, these deadlines [for Chesebro’s case] do not apply to any co-defendant.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.