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Georgia County Judge Rules Trump And Co-Defendants Cannot All Be Tried At Once

A state judge in Georgia has denied the prosecutors’ request to consolidate all 19 defendants for the Georgia 2020 election interference case scheduled for next month.

On Thursday, Sept. 14, Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee rejected the request. 

“The Court joins the skepticism expressed by several federal courts that denying severance always ensures efficiency, especially in ‘mega trials’ such as this,” McAfee wrote in his court orderThe Hill reports.

This means District Attorney Fani Willis‘s strategy of forcing all 19 defendants, including ex-President Donald Trump, to stand trial together is dead in the water. McAfee did not set an official trial date in his ruling, but it is expected that Trump will delay the case as long as possible.

Other defendants, such as Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, will be tried together due to their lack of ability to demonstrate a need to separate their cases. 

Part of McAfee’s ruling indicates that the judicial logistics required to try 19 defendants at once does not exist, writing in his judgment that the Fulton County Courthouse does not have a large enough courtroom to make such an arrangement feasible. In addition, he wrote, “Relocating to another larger venue raises security concerns that cannot be rapidly addressed.” 

Willis had previously argued that the defendants could be tried together because the courthouse could accommodate a trial of all the defendants together.

McAfee also indicated that such a high-profile case could have adverse effects on the local criminal justice system. However, he is not inclined to allow defendants such as former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to pause their prosecutions while they try to move their case to the federal court system.

“However, as appeals to the Eleventh Circuit and the United States Supreme Court could take months to resolve even if expedited, the Court does not intend to delay pretrial litigation,” McAfee wrote in his decision. “Pending the removal appeals, Defendants are expected at a minimum to review discovery and prepare their pretrial motions. The arguments within these motions should mirror whatever would be filed if this case is removed, lessening concerns regarding unnecessarily expended resources.”

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