A Georgia state judge has scheduled an Oct. 23 racketeering trial for Kenneth Chesebro, one of 18 codefendants charged by local prosecutors alongside Donald Trump in a plot to subvert the 2020 election.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis asked the judge, Scott McAfee, Thursday to schedule the trial for all 19 defendants on that date, an unexpectedly rapid timeline that Willis proposed in response to Chesebro’s formal demand for a speedy trial. But McAfee indicated that “at this time” he would only expedite the trial date for Chesebro.
The demand from Chesebro, an attorney who is accused of orchestrating a scheme to send false electors to Congress, requires a quick trial that comes within, or shortly after, the term of the grand jury that issued the indictment against Trump and his allies. On Thursday morning, Chesebro also asked for an “expedited” arraignment to facilitate his speedy trial effort.
Willis responded to Chesebro’s initial motion Thursday by, essentially, agreeing.
“Without waiving any objection as to the sufficiency of Defendant Kenneth John Chesebro’s filing, the State requests that this Court specially set the trial in this case to commence on October 23, 2023, which falls within the term of the ‘next succeeding regular court term,’” Willis wrote.
McAfee’s schedule for the Chesebro trial includes an arraignment on Sept. 6, all evidence sharing to be completed by Sept. 20, pretrial motions by Sept. 27 and final preliminary matters to be undertaken on Sept. 29.
A trial for all 19 defendants just two months from now seems implausible given the torrent of anticipated pretrial motions and complex legal issues likely to be litigated before a jury can be seated. Three of the defendants — Mark Meadows, Jeff Clark and David Shafer — are seeking to transfer the case to federal court, which would sideline the proceedings in Fulton County. Trump has yet to weigh in on that effort but is expected to make his own bid to scuttle the charges against him before trial.
Trump’s attorney, Steve Sadow, quickly signaled his objection to Willis’ proposed trial date on Thursday and indicated he would file a motion to sever his case from Chesebro’s, which would untether him from the expedited proceedings.
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