Sarah May
September 4, 2023

Experts: Judge's choice of March 4 for start of Trump trial poses due process threats

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has determined that former President Donald Trump's trial on charges related to his conduct following the 2020 election will begin on March 4, 2024, but according to numerous legal experts, the move places a host of significant -- and unfair -- obstacles in the way of his defense, as the Daily Caller reports.

Chutkan's decision came despite a request from Trump's attorneys that the trial not commence until April of 2026 due to the staggering amounts of evidence that must be reviewed in the case, and many observers believe it to pose a real threat to the former president's due process rights.

Controversial date set

As The Hill noted, Special Counsel Jack Smith's team of prosecutors sought a trial start date of Jan. 2, 2024, whereas Trump's lawyers aimed for spring of 2026, but in the end, Chutkan came much closer to granting the former's wishes by selecting the day before the Super Tuesday primaries as the beginning of procedings in the case over which she presides.

In the eyes of many commentators, Chutkan's decision is an egregious – and seemingly calculated – move to deprive Trump of the ability to thoroughly prepare for trial, particularly in light of the voluminous discovery involved in the case.

John Malcom of the Institute for Constitutional Government at the Heritage Foundation explained to the Daily Caller News Foundation, “This is all happening, as the judge well knows, while Trump is running for president, facing three other indictments (one of which has also been set for trial in May), and several civil lawsuits.”

“Donald Trump, like every other defendant in a criminal case, is entitled to due process and effective assistance of counsel, which includes having an adequate amount of time and opportunity to review the evidence and consult with his attorneys in a meaningful fashion,” Malcolm added.

George Washington Law professor and frequent Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley agreed, saying, “This daisy-chaining of trials presents unnecessary and unfair challenges for the defense,” and even CNN's liberal legal analyst Elie Honig expressed skepticism about Chutkan's decision, saying, “[s]ome of the rationales that the DOJ had offered up that the judge agreed with” in terms of setting the date “don't cut it.”

"Just-in-time" interference alleged

Scott Johnson of Powerline went even further in his critique, tackling Chutkan's suggestion that “the public has a right to a prompt and efficient resolution of this matter,” which she made in an apparent attempt to justify the controversial date she selected.

As Johnson aptly points out, “the overriding consideration in a criminal case is usually deemed the defendant's right to a fair trial,” something that the chosen date will significantly hamper, given the slate of other complex legal entanglements simultaneously requiring Trump's time and attention.

Johnson also skeptically posits that Chutkan's choice of date smacks of blatant and deliberate election interference, given its proximity to Super Tuesday, adding that in light of the estimates already provided by the prosecution and the defense as to the time they will require to present their sides of the case, “the guilty verdict is scheduled to arrive no later than July 4.”

“Perhaps Judge Chutkan may actually be able to have Trump imprisoned before election day,” Johnson wryly observers. “The whole thing presents an impressive example of just-in-time manufacturing.”

Taking issue with Chutkan's assertion that “there is a societal interest to a speedy trial,” Johnson reminds readers, “Students of the Constitution may recall that the right to a speedy trial belongs to defendants” and defendants alone. Sadly, however, as part of the left's quest to eliminate Trump from the political landscape once and for all, such quaint considerations will likely continue to be pushed forcefully to the margins.

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