Judge Allows Two Trump Co-Defendants to Sever Their Georgia Trials

Former President Donald Trump and 18 other defendants were charged last month. The 41-count indictment charged all 19 with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization, or RICO, Act. Willis accused the defendants of “participating in schemes to try to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia and unlawfully name Trump the winner of the election.” All 19 defendants, including Trump, pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges.

Lawyers Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, two co-defendants in what has been categorized as the “Georgia election interference case,” have requested that their cases be severed from the trials of the other 17 co-defendants and tried separately. On Thursday, “Judge Scott McAfee agreed to sever the trials and allow Powell and Chesebro “to go to trial sooner than the rest of the accused.”

Chesebro and Powell will now have a joint trial starting Oct. 23, 2023. The remaining 17 defendants will be tried at a later date. The court ruled, additionally, that “additional severances may follow” regarding the other 17 co-defendants. Judge McAfee, in his order filed in the Fulton County Superior Court, stated that “all pretrial deadlines will proceed as scheduled without a stay of proceedings.”

Judge McAfee’s ruling rejected the position of District Attorney Fani Willis, “who wanted to try all 19 defendants simultaneously in October.” Judge McAfee justified his ruling by citing “logistical concerns and the extended length of such a crowded trial.” Judge McAfee elaborated: “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.”

A somewhat technical matter, the judge indicated in his ruling that “the court will revisit the issue of separating the cases for the other defendants who have not filed a waiver to invoke a speedy trial by Sept. 29.” The judge noted that “Powell and Chesebro were the only ones to request a speedy trial in the case.” Judge McAfee said that dividing the 17 other defendants, including Trump, “may well be required,” adding, “That is a decision for another day once the many anticipated pretrial motions have been resolved and a realistic trial date approaches.”

A footnote in the filing stated: “Regardless, the Court has received assurances that other members of the Fulton County bench stand ready to begin a second trial within the November/December term.”

Earlier this month, McAfee denied motions from Powell and Chesebro to sever their cases from each other. Their attorneys argued that splitting up their cases was necessary because, while both were charged with racketeering, they’re alleged to have carried out different schemes.

D & B Staff

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