In a blow to prosecutors, Judge Scott McAfee said severing the remaining 17 defendants was “a procedural and logistical inevitability,” and did not rule out the possibility that “additional divisions” may be required later.
The judge, however, said that any defendant who does not waive their right to speedy trial before Oct. 23 will “immediately” join the trial. Trump has already waived his speedy trial rights.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had been seeking to have all 19 defendants in the case stand trial together, arguing that multiple trials would create an “enormous strain” on the court.
McAfee last week ordered Chesebro and Powell to be tried on Oct. 23 after they filed speedy trial requests.
Chesebro, as part of his defense, had filed a motion asking the DA to disclose the identities of the 30 unindicted co-conspirators referenced in the indictment, and prosecutors told McAfee at a hearing Thursday that they would do so.
The names will be shared with defense under a protective order, so they will not be made public.
McAfee also signaled a willingness to grant defense counsel access to transcripts for the witnesses who testified before the special purpose grand jury used in the DA’s original probe, a move that attorneys for Powell and Chesebro endorsed in motions and in court Thursday.
The judge said he would take the matter “under advisement … but as an initial thought, at a minimum, it’s going to be granted in part as to any witnesses the state plans to disclose.”
In a heated moment during the hearing, a prosecutor from the DA’s office accused one of Chesebro’s attorneys of prior inappropriate behavior related to Chesebro’s motion seeking to speak to members of the grand jury to determine if there was any impropriety in the grand jury process.
The remark prompted Chesebro attorney Scott Grubman to spring up and yell that his co-counsel was being “defamed.”
“That was completely inappropriate,” Grubman told the judge in defense of his co-counsel.
Judge McAfee attempted to get Grubman to move on and “stay on the issue,” telling him, “I said it’s over.”
But Grubman responded, “I wish you would have stopped her from defaming my co-counsel.”
In his order severing the remaining cases from Chesebro and Powell, McAfee cited issues regarding due process and the voluminous discovery in the case.