Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team have asked for a trial date that would commence weeks before ex-President Donald Trump would begin participating in GOP primaries, and cited a Fox News hit in the filing.
Smith’s team filed a motion for a relatively short date to sent Trump to trial on his indictment by Smith’s grand jury for his attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election before and on January 6, 2021. Trump faces charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
In the filing, Smith proposes a January 2, 2024 date — weeks before the Iowa caucuses:
The Government proposes that trial begin on January 2, 2024, and estimates that its case in chief will take no longer than four to six weeks. This trial date, and the proposed schedule outlined below, would give the defendant time to review the discovery in this case and prepare a defense, and would allow the Court and parties to fully litigate any pre-trial legal issues. Most importantly, a January 2 trial date would vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial—an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens’ legitimate votes.
The filing cites several of Trump attorney John Lauro’s many media hits, including an appearance on Fox News Channel’s The Ingraham Angle, in arguing against Trump’s attempts to push for a longer date:
At the defendant’s initial appearance, and in several television interviews, defense counsel has suggested that the Speedy Trial Act is intended only to protect the defendant’s rights. See, e.g., 8/3/23 Hr’g Tr. at 17 (“Of course, the Speedy Trial Act protects a defendant’s rights”); 8/3/23 Fox News, Ingraham Angle (“Speedy trials rights are a defendant’s speedy trial rights. A citizen’s speedy trial rights. Not the government.” 2 ).
Not so. Under both the Sixth Amendment’s Speedy Trial Clause and the Speedy Trial Act, the right to a timely trial is vested in the public, not just in the defendant. See Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 519 (1972) (“The right to a speedy trial is generically different from any of the other rights enshrined in the Constitution for the protection of the accused,” since “there is a societal interest in providing a speedy trial which exists separate from, and at times in opposition to, the interests of the accused.”); Zedner v. United States, 547 U.S. 489, 501 (2006) (“[T]he [Speedy Trial] Act was designed not just to benefit defendants but also to serve the public interest by, among other things, reducing defendants’ opportunity to commit crimes while on pretrial release and preventing extended pretrial delay from impairing the deterrent effect of punishment.”); United States v. Gambino, 59 F.3d 353, 360 (2d Cir. 1995) (“[T]he public has as great an interest in a prompt criminal trial as has the defendant. Certainly, the public is the loser when a criminal trial is not prosecuted expeditiously, as suggested by the aphorism, ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’”).
Thus far, Federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s rulings have broken in favor of a speedier proceeding and against delays.