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Judge Cannon Declines Trump's Request to Postpone Fort Pierce Documents Trial Until After the 2024 Elections; But Extends Pre-Trial Filing Deadlines

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Fort Pierce - Monday November 13, 2023: U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon has declined to delay Trump’s Fort Pierce classified documents trial, for now.

In an order issued Friday, Judge Cannon called the defense lawyers request to postpone the date “premature.” However she did agree to delay other pre-trial filing deadlines in the case and she signaled that she would consider the defense request again at a scheduling conference next March.

The ruling means that the trial, for now at least, remains set to begin on May 20, 2024, despite efforts by Trump's legal team to delay it until after the 2024 presidential election. Trump is currently leading in the polls for the Republican nomination.

However the Judge delayed a number of pre-trial filing deadlines in response to claims by Trump's defense lawyers that they needed more time to review all the evidence. The U.S. Justice Department's Special Counsel Jack Smith, who filed the charges against Trump, vigorously opposed any delay and urged the Judge to leave the trial date unchanged.

Trump’s lawyers also cited scheduling challenges resulting from the other felony and civil fraud cases against the former president, including three additional criminal prosecutions for which he is awaiting trial. Special counsel Jack Smith’s team had vigorously opposed that position and urged the judge to leave the trial date unchanged.

Cannon signaled during a hearing on November 1st, and again in her written order on Friday, that she was sympathetic to the defense arguments. She noted the “unusually high volume of classified and unclassified evidence” involved in the case, as well as the fact that Trump is currently scheduled next March to face both a federal trial in Washington and a trial on state charges in New York.

“Although the Special Counsel is correct that the trajectory of these matters potentially remains in flux, the schedules as they currently stand overlap substantially with the deadlines in this case, presenting additional challenges to ensuring Defendant Trump has adequate time to prepare for trial and to assist in his defense,” Cannon wrote.

Trump is accused of violating the Espionage Act by taking and refusing to return classified documents when he left office. In addition, he is alleged to have schemed with his butler, Walt Nauta, to “alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal evidence" related to those classified documents, including ordering the property manager at his Mar-a-Lago estate to delete footage taken by video cameras at the residence that showed boxes of documents being moved in an effort to obstruct the federal investigation into his possession of those classified documents. Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges.