Judge Denies Georgia DA’s Request to Tell Trump and Co-Defendants Speedy Trial Has a Cost

Judge Scott McAfee invited Fulton County DA Fani Willis to try to raise the issue again at a later date

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been denied a request by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to advise former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants that speedy trial demands come with a cost. The judge noted that many of the deadlines highlighted within those cases, if imposed, would directly conflict with the court’s Standing Case Management Order and its routinely entered case-specific scheduling order.

The judge invited the DA to try to raise the matter again at a later date. Two pro-Trump attorneys, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, have invoked their rights to a speedy trial in the 19-defendant case, and McAfee has scheduled Chesebro’s trial for Oct. 23, 2023. Trump has asked to separate his trial from Chesebro’s, hoping to secure a later trial date.

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DA Willis wants all the defendants to be tried together, and she asked the judge to inform them that invoking speedy trial rights carries second-order effects. The prosecutor cited certain Georgia appellate precedents in support of her position, but McAfee has declined to rule on those issues so far, finding that each issue should be litigated on a case-by-case basis. The DA argued that invoking speedy trial rights would prevent the defendants from arguing that they are entitled to certain discovery responses 10 days before trial, citing Smith v. State, a precedent focused primarily on an evidentiary issue.

The visibility of Trump’s criminal case in Georgia puts a spotlight on general due-process issues that rarely receive the national spotlight. As a criminal defense attorney who routinely defends people who are poor and unknown, it is always a weird bonus when a rich and important person gets charged, and we can start to put a spotlight on the way we treat ordinary Americans.”

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