Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ office filed a motion on Wednesday requesting a March 4 start date for the criminal trial against former President Donald Trump and his 18 co-conspirators.
An early March date would mean the trial would start just before the Georgia presidential primary.
Willis also requested that the arraignment for the defendants take place the week of Sep. 5, and said that both proposed dates “do not conflict” with “other courts’ already-scheduled hearings and trial dates” for Trump, according to the filing.
But Willis’ request will likely get pushback from the Trump defense team. Trump has a long history of using any means necessary to delay cases against him. Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, a fellow defendant, has already filed a motion to move the case to federal court.
And the three other criminal cases that the former president is already facing, two of them federal, will certainly not make scheduling the Georgia one simple.
In addition, with a whopping 19 defendants — who’ll likely all have their own defense teams — a number of experts who talked to the New York Times said they didn’t expect a smooth path forward, raising the possibility that the case could potentially take years not months.
John B. Meixner Jr. — an assistant law professor at the University of Georgia and a former federal prosecutor — told the Times that normally, a six-month window from indictment to trial for a case like this would be “a very aggressive timeline.”
But prosecutors, and perhaps the judge, he added, will be highly motivated to resolve the case ahead of the 2024 election. Because “if the case is still ongoing, and if Mr. Trump were to win the 2024 election, we’d have a new slate of questions of whether a sitting president can be tried for a state criminal offense,” Meixner said.
Chris Timmons — an Atlanta-area lawyer and a former prosecutor — told the Times that with so many defendants, political gamesmanship may not be the only factor.
“It takes a while to get everybody arraigned,” he said. “It takes a while to make sure everybody’s got an attorney. There’s discovery that’s got to be engaged in.”
“There’s a lot of information to process to get organized, to be ready to go,” he added.
Read the order here: