udge Scott McAfee gave a significant ruling on Wednesday, deciding that the trials of former attorneys for Donald Trump, Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, could proceed separately from the other 17 accused.
District Attorney Fani Willis of Fulton County had planned to prosecute all 19 individuals together, who were charged under her inquiry into purported illicit efforts to challenge the 2020 Georgia election results. Willis’ office is ready to initiate the trials by October 23.
Chesebro and Powell, both indicted alongside the former president, requested their trials to be distinct from the others. All three have declared their innocence.
McAfee’s decision was grounded in practical reasons. He highlighted that the Fulton County Courthouse lacks a courtroom spacious enough to accommodate the 19 accused, their extensive legal teams, court officials, security personnel, and the state’s legal representatives.
Greg Bluestein, a journalist with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a correspondent for MSNBC and NBC News, remarked on X, the platform succeeding Twitter, that this verdict is a setback for the Fulton County prosecution team, which hoped to try all 19 individuals together. Earlier in the week, DA Willis had mentioned that breaking the group into multiple trials would be a logistical challenge.
Neama Rahmani, a lawyer from California, shared on X that this division of cases is disadvantageous not just for DA Willis but also makes one wonder about the strategy of state prosecutors, possibly providing a glimpse of the witness statements to Trump in the election fraud case.
However, Dave Aronberg, State Attorney of Palm Beach County, Florida, commented to Newsweek that he never anticipated a single trial for all defendants, thus finding Judge McAfee’s decision expected. He emphasized the number of trials as a critical consideration, suggesting fewer trials would be advantageous for DA Willis.
Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor, expressed to Newsweek that this decision wasn’t a detriment to Willis, as case separations were always plausible. When questioned about any shift in Willis’ strategy due to the ruling, Kreis was confident there would be none.