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Judge In Trump’s Classified Documents Case Sets Trial Date

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The judge in former President Donald Trump’s classified documents case has set a trial date and it is good news for the former president.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon decided to meet in the middle of the request from prosecutors to start the trial in December of 2023 and Team Trump’s request to have it after the 2024 presidential election, Politico reported.

The date she landed on to start the trial is May 20, 2024. After the heat of the Republican primaries and six months before the presidential election.

This week Judge Cannon appeared prepared to push the start date of the trial past December, which was the government’s request, and possibly past the 2024 presidential election, The Palm Beach Post reported.

She also rebuffed the prosecution’s attempt to prevent Trump and his codefendant, Walt Nauta, from accessing the classified evidence against them before the trial.

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The Post reported.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon called the effort “a bit rushed” and chided prosecutors for filing their motion Monday without first conferring with the defense attorneys. She also questioned prosecutors’ proposed Dec. 11 trial date, weighing whether the complexity of the case may warrant more time for attorneys on both sides to prepare.

Cannon did not issue an order rescheduling the trial but promised to do so soon.

Tuesday’s hearing, the first pretrial conference held in the classified documents case, saw lengthy debate over whether Trump’s status as a presidential candidate warranted an indefinite delay of the trial. Cannon, like prosecutors, seemed unconvinced that it did.

Defense attorneys Todd Blanche and Christopher Kise requested the trial start in November 2024, after the presidential election.

“It is intellectually dishonest to say this case is like any other case,” Blanche said. “It is not.”

Judge Cannon, whom Trump appointed, seemed open to the arguments from Trump’s lawyers but did push to set some dates and a more concrete timetable.

“We need to set a timetable,” Cannon said. “Some deadlines can be established now.”

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Justice Department attorney David Harbach said that the idea that Trump could not get a fair trial before the election was false.

“In short, Mr. Trump is not the president. He is a defendant indicted by a grand jury,” he said.  “Our view is he should be treated like anyone else.”

Last wek Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team responded to a filing from former President Donald Trump’s attorneys seeking to postpone the start of his classified documents trial until after the presidential election.

The Trump team of attorneys said that they believed their client could not get an impartial jury during the campaign, but Smith and the Department of Justice filed a blistering response deriding that assertion, Mediaite reported.

“The United States files this reply in support of its Motion for Continuance and Proposed Revised Scheduling Order (ECF No. 34, “Mot.”). In their response in opposition to the Motion (ECF No. 66, “Resp.”), Defendants Trump and Nauta claim unequivocally that they cannot receive a fair trial prior to the conclusion of the next presidential election, urge the Court to withdraw the current scheduling Order (ECF No. 28), and request that the Court not even consider a new trial date until some unspecified later time. Resp. at 9, 10. There is no basis in law or fact for proceeding in such an indeterminate and open-ended fashion, and the Defendants provide none. For the reasons discussed below and in the Government’s Motion, the Court should reset the trial date in this action for December 11, 2023,” the Department of Justice said.

“Defendants’ claim that this Court could not select an impartial jury until after the presidential election does not justify further delay here. Resp. at 9. First and most importantly, there is no reason to credit the claim. Our jury system relies on the Court’s authority to craft a thorough and effective jury selection process, and on prospective jurors’ ability and willingness to decide cases based on the evidence presented to them, guided by legal instructions from the Court. To be sure, the Government readily acknowledges that jury selection here may merit additional protocols (such as a questionnaire) and may be more time-consuming than in other cases, but those are reasons to start the process sooner rather than later,” it said.

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