Georgia judge rules former Trump attorneys Chesebro and Powell will be tried together in October

 September 7, 2023

A court hearing was held Wednesday in Fulton County, Georgia, with respect to a pair of former President Donald Trump's co-defendants who requested speedy trials separate from each other and all of the other 17 alleged co-conspirators indicted as part of a purported racketeering conspiracy to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results.

The state judge overseeing the case denied the motions of attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell to be tried separately from one another and instead ordered them both to stand trial together, potentially as soon as the end of October, according to The Hill.

In denying the motions for separation from the two attorneys, however, the judge also expressed his skepticism toward Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' desire to have all 19 co-defendants tried at the same time in one trial that she wants to commence next month.

Attorneys Chesebro and Powell to be tried together

According to the Associated Press, the attorneys separately representing Chesebro and Powell, who have both requested speedy trials, similarly argued that the two co-defendants should be tried separately since they don't even know each other, are charged with entirely different alleged crimes, and that evidence presented against one could unfairly prejudice the jury against the other.

Chesebro was charged for his alleged role in establishing a slate of alternate pro-Trump electors in Georgia while Powell was indicted for her alleged role in a purported breach of voting machines in Coffee County and the supposed subsequent unauthorized copying of data and software from those machines.

Prosecutors pushed back against the arguments for separation, though, and Deputy District Attorney Will Wooten argued, "The problem for them is that it doesn’t matter because it's all part of the same overarching RICO conspiracy."

According to The Hill, the prosecutor added, "Anytime a person enters into a conspiracy, they are liable for all of the acts of all of their co-conspirators. And that’s it. Evidence against one is evidence against all."

That apparently sufficed for Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, as he ruled from the bench, "Based on what’s been presented today, I am not finding the severance from Mr. Chesbro or Ms. Powell is necessary to achieve a fair determination of the guilt or innocence for either defendant in this case."

Proposed timeline from prosecutors deemed "a bit unrealistic"

Yet, while prosecutors may have scored a win by keeping Chesebro and Powell tied together for trial, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the prosecution is likely facing an impending loss on their bid to try all 19 co-defendants at the same time as Judge McAfee said he was "very skeptical" of such a proposal.

"It seems a bit unrealistic that we could handle all 19 in 40-something days. That’s my initial reaction," McAfee said as he gave prosecutors until next Tuesday to submit briefs in support of their request that all of the 19 co-defendants be tried together.

The judge's reportedly also expressed sympathy for the requests from some defense attorneys for more time to prepare and file motions ahead of trial as well as doubt with regard to the estimated timeline from prosecutors that a trial would take around four months -- after the potentially drawn-out jury selection process was concluded -- and could involve the testimony of up to 150 different witnesses.

Prospect of removal to federal court looms over everything

CNN reported that Judge McAfee's skepticism about the prosecutors' demand that all 19 co-defendants be tried together was the fact that a federal judge is expected to rule soon on motions from some co-defendants, such as former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, to have their cases removed to federal court from state court -- a process that could prove time-consuming if, as expected, the ruling is appealed by either side.

"To charge ahead … might be risky," McAfee said of the possibility that some or all of the co-defendants could be moved from state to federal court. "Where does that leave us in the middle of a jury trial?"

In the end, at least for now, it appears that Chesebro and Powell will be tried together beginning on October 23 while the court continues to hash out a plethora of various already filed or imminent pre-trial motions from the other 17 co-defendants that could potentially add even more complications and delays to the case.

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