The judge is deciding Trump’s 2020 Georgia extortion case and 16 other people who were excluded from the trial in October

A Fulton County judge ruled Thursday that 17 defendants, including former President Donald Trump, will be tried separately from co-defendants Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, who appeared on Oct. 23 for allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election They should stand trial in Georgia.

In his order Thursday, Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee noted the logistical challenges of meeting the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office’s demands to try all 19 defendants at the same time next month. McAfee’s ruling means co-defendants Powell and Chesebro are scheduled to have a hearing on October 23, the first part of a hearing expected marathon attempt The public prosecutor’s office assumes that 150 witnesses will testify within four months.

Earlier this week, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis defended the holding of joint trials viewed as an efficient use of resources for the 19 defendants because prosecutors plan to present the same evidence and witnesses for each defendant’s case.

McAfee wrote Thursday that the courtroom in downtown Atlanta was not large enough to accommodate all 19 defendants, their lawyers and the prosecutors’ team at the same time.

McAfee rejected requests from attorneys representing Chesebro and Powell to have their cases tried separately. Their lawyers said they wanted to break off trials against their co-defendants to protect their clients from being unfairly burdened with unrelated evidence.

In his ruling, McAfee said he was considering the impact of a months-long trial that would result in “dozens of defense attorneys being barred from handling other cases and preventing this court – and most likely most colleagues – from managing the rest of the docket.” .”

“Moving to a different, larger venue raises safety concerns that cannot be quickly addressed,” McAfee said.

No dates have been set for the trials of Republican presidential candidate Trump and 16 of his co-defendants, all of whom were indicted on August 14 under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law. Fulton prosecutors have argued that the state’s RICO law does not require each defendant to have direct connections or knowledge of one another in order to be tried together.

McAfee’s ruling leaves the door open to the separation of other defendants’ cases.

Willis initially requested that Trump and his 18 co-defendants stand trial in March, about seven months after the filing of a 91-count indictment accusing the 45th president of being one of the leaders of the 2020 election conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election Democratic President Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.

Chesebro and Powell called for a speedy trial, which Georgia law would require the trial to begin no later than Nov. 6.

Lawyers for several defendants, including Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, have claimed that a shorthanded approach to the complex case would hamper their ability to mount a strong defense.

Trump and Giuliani are on trial on 13 counts, including an overarching charge of violating Georgia’s crime code, which is modeled on a federal law that targets Mafia leaders and other criminal enterprises.

Fulton prosecutors allege that Chesebro and Powell participated in the conspiracy to unlawfully disrupt Georgia’s election system, although their methods differed.

The allegations against Chesebro relate to its role in developing the implementation strategy fake GOP voters in Georgia and several other states that would vote for Trump.

Powell is charged with multiple felonies for allegedly helping to hire a team of computer forensic experts to work in a Coffee County location Violation of the electoral system this happened weeks after the 2020 election.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys fight over access to the grand jury

In a 90-minute court hearing Thursday, prosecutors argued against a request from Powell and Chesebro’s lawyers that McAfee allow them to contact jurors for voluntary interviews.

Scott Grubman, attorney for Kenneth Chesebro, meets with reporters following a court hearing in Fulton County on Sept. 14 in the 2020 presidential election interference case. Recorder by Stanley Dunlap/Georgia

According to Chesebro’s attorney, Scott Grubman, the interviews will help determine whether prosecutors interfered with the jury’s decision.

“While we cannot ask the grand jurors what happened during the deliberations, we can ask whether anyone other than the grand jury was involved in the deliberations,” the Dunwoody attorney said.

“The reason we filed this motion is to be honest and make sure everything is disclosed.”

Fulton District Attorney Daysha Young expressed concern that defense attorneys might inquire about the secret grand jury’s deliberations.

“While we cannot ask the grand jurors what happened during the deliberations, we can ask whether anyone other than the grand jury was involved in the deliberations,” the Dunwoody attorney said.

“The reason we filed this motion is to be honest and make sure everything is disclosed.”

Young also noted that jurors might not feel comfortable being asked to continue participating in the high-profile case after their personal information has already been published online.

“You have experienced doxxing threats. They contacted our office for safety reasons,” Young said. “We had to contact law enforcement throughout Fulton to ensure these jurors were safe.”

Powell and Chesebro’s attorneys were instructed by McAfee to provide the court with a list of questions they would ask the jury.

“I certainly haven’t found anything in Georgia law that says no one is allowed to speak to the grand jury,” McAfee said. “I agree with you that consultations are a hard stop.”