Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis asked a Georgia judge Tuesday to expedite the cases of all 19 defendants charged in a sweeping racketeering case over interference in the state’s 2020 election.
After defendant Kenneth Chesebro demanded a speedy trial in the case, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee set his trial date for Oct. 23, four months sooner than the date Willis originally proposed.
In that ruling, McAfee said the decision to move forward with an October trial date pertains only to Chesebro “at this time.” Willis pushed back against that decision in a Tuesday court filing.
“The State of Georgia respectfully requests that the Court set aside its Case Specific Scheduling Order entered on August 24, 2023, to the extent that the Order states, ‘[a]t this time, these deadlines do not apply to any co-defendant,'” Willis wrote in the filing.
Georgia’s speedy trial rules say the cases must be tried before the end of two court terms following their arraignments. All the defendants’ arraignments, where they will formally hear the charges they face and enter a plea, are set for Sept. 6.
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Former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell also demanded a speedy trial, though McAfee has not set a date for her case. Powell pleaded not guilty to all the charges she faces Tuesday in writing and waived her arraignment; it is unclear how that will affect her case’s timeline.
Willis said Tuesday her office maintains its position that “severance is improper at this juncture and that all Defendants should be tried together” — a position she has held since announcing charges earlier this month.
“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,” Willis wrote.
The Fulton County district attorney also asked the court to set a deadline for defendants wishing to sever their cases from the rest of the defendants, allowing time for the parties to brief the issue and hold a hearing on it.
The defendants, which include former President Trump, face a combined 41 charges asserting they joined a criminal enterprise to subvert the state’s election results so Trump could stay in power after losing the 2020 election.
If McAfee approves Willis’s request, the trial could become the first Trump will face. In the former president’s other three criminal matters, he has two trials set for March and a third set for May.