Trial date clock in Mar-a-Lago case has not ticked down a single day in over a year


Donald Trump, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, special counsel Jack Smith

Left: Donald Trump (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File); Center: U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon (U.S. Senate); Right: Special counsel Jack Smith (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

While things have been going on for a while in the Southern District of Florida, the clock ticking down on the mandatory start date of the Mar-a-Lago documents trial has not moved a single day in over a year.

Under longstanding federal law, the Speedy Trial Act generally sets a 70-day window for a trial date to commence from the time an indictment is filed — with numerous exceptions and caveats.

Under the court orders established by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to govern the case, and under the court’s own local rules, the government is required to file intermittent Speedy Trial reports.

On Tuesday afternoon, special counsel Jack Smith filed his 17th such report — noting “that 70 days remain on the Speedy Trial clock.”

While dilatory tactics by three defendants in the case — former president and convicted felon Donald Trump; Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos DeOliveira; and Trump’s valet Waltine “Walt” Nauta — appear to be part-and-parcel of the overarching defense strategy, the trio are all subject to the Speedy Trial Act. That is, no defendant has, at least not yet, waived their baked-in rights under federal law.

Smith noted in his three-page report “that the same Speedy Trial clock applies to each defendant,” citing a September 2023 court order. That order was issued after DeOliveira was added to the indictment in July 2023 and filed a “competing” Speedy Trial report that differed in some respects from the ones filed by Trump and Nauta.

The court’s order explained:

One speedy trial clock governs as to all defendants in this multi-defendant case; no severance has been granted or requested; De Oliveira has made no substantive showing of unreasonable delay or prejudice stemming from the Court’s Orders; and the continuance granted in this case clearly serves the ends of justice as to all defendants, for all of the reasons previously stated, as amplified by the addition of a third defendant and the manifest complexity of this case.

Now, the defendants are all on the same page.

“Counsel for Defendants Trump, Nauta, and De Oliveira have reviewed this filing and have authorized the Government to represent that they concur with it,” the prosecution wrote in a footnote.

As the result of various delays issued by the court so far, the Speedy Trial Act window was, until recently, set to open on May 20.

More Law&Crime coverage: ‘The pursuit of justice remains paramount’: Trump asks judge in Mar-a-Lago classified documents case to continue delaying trial despite looming statutory deadline

In April, the defense requested that the clock continue not to tick down anytime soon — under the legal doctrine known as tolling.

“Time would also continue to be tolled under the Speedy Trial Act while the Court considers the numerous pretrial motions still pending,” the motion reads, adding that the sheer volume of discovery in the case also supported a kick-the-can approach to the trial date.

Last Month, Cannon, as widely anticipated, took an eraser to that penciled-in date — resetting pre-trial hearings well into late July.

Earlier this month, Cannon reshuffled the scheduling decks in the case further — moving various hearings around and leaving other issues to be scheduled “by subsequent Order.” That reshuffle, however, did not alter the late July hearing — but seemed to anticipate such motions being entertained by the court into late summer.

Smith notes the upshot of the latest scheduling in his Speedy Trial report: “By Order dated May 7, 2024, the Court further excluded the time between May 20, 2024 and July 22, 2024.”

The initial indictment in the case was filed on June 8, 2023; the superseding indictment was filed on July 27, 2023; the Speedy Trial Act window is now technically set to open sometime on or around July 23 — with one defense motion not yet docketed for a hearing — but don’t be surprised if the clock is tolled at least once more before then.



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