In the Trump Georgia case, a hearing could be extended as soon as March

Former President Donald J. Fulton County, Ga., said Monday that it hopes its criminal fraud case against Trump and his associates can go to trial in about six months. District Attorney Fanny D. Willis said. On Wednesday, his office filed a motion seeking a March 4 start date.

But fraud cases are not built for speed. It took two and a half years to put this together. Efforts to proceed with the trial in Georgia as soon as possible, Mr. That would be complicated by a schedule of three other criminal cases Trump already faces in Florida, New York and Washington, DC.

With the 19 defendants represented by lawyers, many experts on Tuesday did not expect a smooth road ahead and raised the possibility that the case could take years, not months, to reach a conclusion. A defendant, Mark Meadows, said Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff has already filed a motion to move the case to federal court.

On Wednesday, Mr. The judge overseeing the effort to oust Meadow gave Ms. Willis’ office until Aug. 23 to respond to her request and set a witness hearing for Aug. 28.

Mr. Trump has a long history of using delay tactics in his various legal troubles, and he too is likely to file pretrial motions to have the case thrown out or transferred to federal court. The judge in the case may have determined that less than six months was not enough time for defense attorneys to prepare for a trial involving multiple defendants and 41 total charges, including the fraud count, which took nearly 60 pages to explain to the prosecutor.

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John B., assistant professor of law at the University of Georgia and former federal prosecutor. Meixner Jr. said that typically, six months from indictment to trial for a case like this would be “a very aggressive time frame.” Prosecutors, and perhaps the judge, would be very motivated to resolve the case before the 2024 election, he said.

On the other hand, Mr. Meixner said, the upcoming election Mr. Trump has been prompted to push back his trial date, particularly in Georgia. “If the case is still ongoing, if Mr. Trump wins the 2024 election, we will have new questions about whether a sitting president can be prosecuted for a state criminal offense,” he said.

Chris Timmons, an Atlanta-area attorney and former prosecutor with 19 defendants, said political gamesmanship was not the only factor.

“It will take some time to arrest everyone,” he said. “It takes a while to make sure everyone has a lawyer. There’s discovery involved.

He added: “There’s a lot of information to process, to organize, to be ready to go.”

A case against the culprits is expected to be filed by the end of next week. In a motion filed Wednesday, Ms. Willis sought to schedule hearings for the week of Sept. 5 and proposed a timetable for other steps that would conclude with hearings beginning on March 4, the first day of Super Tuesday. The final table was assigned to the case by Judge Scott F. McAfee has.

Ms Willis has previously handled complex fraud cases. He was the lead attorney in a case that dragged on for two years after state investigators found that educators in Atlanta had cheated on school tests. By the time the trial concluded in 2015, the main defendant had died.

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Another fraud charge against the rapper, known as Young Thug and his associates, was handed down in Fulton County in May of last year; Arbitrator selection began six months later, in January, and an arbitrator has yet to be appointed.

Generally, prosecutors want to move quickly, while defense attorneys try to slow things down.

The parties in the Trump case are likely to argue that Ms. Willis needs at least more time to build her case, said Jeffrey E. Grell said. Listen well.

“The primary duty is to protect the defendant’s due process rights,” he said.

Ms. Willis, a Democrat who was elected in 2021, has since opened an investigation into election meddling in Georgia and is up for re-election next year.

Some critics say Trump’s handling of the case has derailed his office’s traditional priorities for the DA. , the Republican mayor of Sandy Springs, a relatively affluent suburb in Fulton County.

He added: “I’m not a fan of Donald Trump, but I have murderers who committed crimes in 2016 who were charged but never tried.”

Atlanta’s homicide toll rose in 2020 and was the highest for two years, mirroring many cities during the pandemic. But police data shows homicides are down 25 percent so far this year compared to the same period in 2022. Ms. Willis noted the declining homicide rate told a local radio station recently“We can walk and chew at the same time.”

Trial attorney and president of the Georgia NAACP, Gerald A. Griggs worked with Ms. Willis in an Atlanta attorney’s office several years ago. He has criticized her in the past for what she believes is an overzealous prosecution of poor black people. But he describes himself as one of Georgia’s most accomplished prosecutors, with serious experience leading complex RICO cases.

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That experience helped Mr. Griggs said that could help move the process along.

“She’s done this before,” he said. “I think people underestimate his skills as a trial lawyer.”

Jonathan Wiseman And Nicholas Bogle-Burroughs Contributed report.

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