Judge Cannon rejects trial start date proposals from prosecutors and Trump defense, sets date for May 2024

July 21, 2023
Ben Marquis

In Special Counsel Jack Smith's classified documents case against former President Donald Trump, federal prosecutors had asked for a trial start date in mid-December of this year while Trump's attorneys had asked that the trial be indefinitely delayed until at least after the 2024 elections next November.

During a Tuesday hearing, Judge Aileen Cannon essentially said "No" in response to the trial start date requests from both sides, according to a Wednesday report from Just the News.

The federal judge in South Florida who was appointed by Trump in 2020 did not set a trial start date during that Tuesday hearing, though she signaled her intent to do so "promptly," but did ask questions and make comments that indicated she did not agree with either the expedited time frame proposed by the government or the open-ended and indefinite suggestion from the defense.

Revised scheduling order plus trial start date

The Associated Press reported Friday that Judge Cannon issued an order that established an array of pertinent dates and deadlines in the case, including a trial start date of May 20, 2024, that seemingly split the difference between the proposals of the prosecutors and defense -- though that date could potentially be pushed back further if necessary.

In her seven-page order, Cannon wrote with regard to former President Trump's request for an indefinite delay, "As a preliminary matter, the Court rejects Defendants’ request to withhold setting of a schedule now; the Court deems it necessary to manage this proceeding through important stages of discovery, CIPA briefing, motion practice, and trial, and does not see a sufficient basis on this record to postpone entry of a scheduling order."

"Nevertheless, the Government’s proposed schedule is atypically accelerated and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial," she continued with regard to the prosecutors' proposed start date in December.

The judge went on to note that "the amount of discovery in this case is voluminous and likely to increase in the normal course as trial approaches," and further pointed to a variety of different and potentially complex issues that needed ample time to be argued and reviewed prior to the start of the trial.

Judge Cannon concluded the order with the schedule she developed which included nearly three dozen procedural deadline dates that culminated in a May 20, 2024 trial start date.

Trump team celebrates judge's ruling on trial start date

In response to Judge Cannon's order, an unidentified spokesperson for the Trump 2024 campaign said in a statement, "Today’s order by Judge Cannon is a major setback to the DOJ’s crusade to deny President Trump a fair legal process. The extensive schedule allows President Trump and his legal team to continue fighting this empty hoax."

"Crooked Joe Biden is losing and attempting to use his weaponized DOJ against his top political rival -- a disgraceful and un-American abuse of power. Crooked Joe will fail and President Trump will win back the White House for the American people," the spokesperson added.

The AP noted that the May 2024 trial start date would fall near the tail end of the Republican primary season when the former president, who dominates in virtually all of the polls, would have presumably sufficiently defeated all of his challengers but not yet officially been named as the GOP nominee, which won't occur until the Republican National Convention is held in mid-July 2024.

Other pending legal issues for Trump

The May 2024 classified documents trial would also follow close behind the March 2024 trial in Manhattan on state-level criminal charges of falsifying business records, and there is the potential that it could conflict with other pending legal woes for former President Trump.

In addition to the classified documents case, it is widely speculated that Special Counsel Smith will also soon criminally indict Trump in relation to the 2020 election that he disputed and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that he is accused of inciting -- though it is obviously unclear when, or even if, such indictments will be issued, much less when they will result in a trial.

On top of that, it is also strongly suspected that Trump will be criminally indicted by a prosecutor in Georgia, again in relation to his efforts to oppose the reported 2020 election results, and it is likewise unknown when that particular matter will end up being addressed in a trial.

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