Federal District Judge Tanya Chutkan, presiding over the election interference case involving former President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., has reversed an earlier decision to approve a motion as reported by The Epoch Times News on Wednesday 6, 2023.
The motion in question concerned the filing of documents under seal, a common practice in cases involving classified or sensitive information, along with the publication of redacted versions for public access.
On September 5, prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith’s team requested this arrangement, and Judge Chutkan promptly granted the motion.
However, President Trump’s legal team objected, arguing that court rules had not been followed and that they were not given an opportunity to respond to the initial motion.
The defense lawyers pointed out that D.C. federal criminal court rules typically provide opposing parties with two weeks to respond to motions unless the judge sets different deadlines.
The lawyers emphasized that the judge cannot deny the opposing party the chance to respond altogether.
Prosecutors can also seek the defendant’s consent before filing a motion, in which case it would be deemed “unopposed.” The defense argued that this process is required by the Due Process clause of the Constitution and fundamental fairness.
In response, the prosecutors defended the judge’s actions, stating that they had reached out to the defense lawyers to ascertain their position on the motion.
They also argued that the motion was consistent with a protective order issued by the judge earlier, which outlines the handling of sensitive information in the case.
They expressed concern that strictly adhering to the standard timeline for responses, as local rules suggest, would significantly delay litigation in the case.
Nevertheless, on the same day, Judge Chutkan vacated her initial order, giving President Trump until September 11 to respond and allowing the prosecutors an additional two days to reply to the response.
She also issued new instructions for future motions, requiring them to indicate whether the movant (the party making the motion) has conferred with opposing counsel and to state the nonmovant’s (the opposing party’s) position if known.
This legal back-and-forth underscores the contentious nature of the case, with potential political implications, as President Trump is considered the frontrunner for the GOP in the 2024 election.
The case, brought by special counsel Jack Smith on August 1, alleges that President Trump did not genuinely believe the 2020 election was stolen and that his efforts to challenge the results constituted various crimes, including conspiracy to obstruct the collection and counting of electoral votes and conspiracy against Americans’ right to vote.
Smith has urged for a prompt trial due to concerns that President Trump’s public comments may prejudice the jury, while Trump’s lawyers argue they need years to prepare, given the vast amount of documents provided during the discovery process.
Judge Chutkan has set the trial date for March 4, just one day before the “Super Tuesday” primaries in 16 states, indicating the significance and complexity of this high-profile case.