The judge overseeing the Georgia election interference case has severed the case, ordering that 17 defendants — including Donald Trump — will not be tried alongside speedy trial defendants Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell on Oct. 23.
Judge Scott McAfee said severing the remaining 17 defendants was “a procedural and logistical inevitability,” and did not rule out the possibility that “additional divisions” may be required later.
The judge, however, said that any defendant who does not waive their right to speedy trial before Oct. 23 will “immediately” join the trial. Trump has already waived his speedy trial rights.
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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had been seeking to have all 19 defendants in the case stand trial together, arguing that multiple trials would create an “enormous strain” on the court.
McAfee last week ordered Chesebro and Powell to be tried on Oct. 23 after they filed speedy trial requests.
His order to sever the remaining cases cited issues regarding due process and the voluminous discovery in the case.
“The precarious ability of the Court to safeguard each defendant’s due process rights and preparation ensure adequate pretrial preparation on the current accelerated track weights heavily, if not decisively, in favor of severance,” his order stated.
The judge also laid out numerous logistical concerns about a 19-person trial, saying the courthouse “simply contained no courtroom adequately large enough to hold all 19 defendants.”
Trump and 18 others have pleaded not guilty to all charges in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia.
The former president says his actions were not illegal and that the investigation is politically motivated.
Chesebro is accused in the DA’s indictment of drafting a strategy to use so-called “alternate electors” to prevent Joe Biden from receiving 270 electoral votes — but his attorneys have argued that the action was justified since Chesebro, in working for Trump, was “fulfilling his duty to his client as an attorney.”
Powell is accused of conspiring with other co-defendants to commit election fraud by allegedly encouraging and helping people tamper with ballot markers and machines inside an elections office in Coffee County.
Chesebro, as part of his defense, had filed a motion asking the DA to disclose the identities of the 30 unindicted co-conspirators referenced in the indictment, and prosecutors told McAfee at Thursday’s hearing that they would do so.
The names will be shared with defense under a protective order, so they will not be made public.
Judge severs Trump’s Georgia election interference case, and 16 others, from trial starting in October originally appeared on abcnews.go.com