Explainer-How could Georgia's speedy trial law affect Trump's criminal case?

FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Erie

By Jacqueline Thomsen

(Reuters) - A judge has set an October trial date for Kenneth Chesebro, one of the defendants charged with conspiring with former U.S. President Donald Trump to reverse the 2020 election results, after Chesebro demanded a "speedy trial."

Here is a look at Georgia's speedy trial law and how it might affect the sprawling case.

What is Georgia's speedy trial law?

Criminal defendants in Georgia can request that their trial begin in the weeks after they are indicted, as long as jurors are available to hear the case. That timeframe is dictated by the "terms" during which each state court hears cases, and in Fulton County, the term begins on the first Monday of every other month.

Anyone indicted during the current term who demands a speedy trial must have their trial begin by Nov. 3 at the latest. Attorney Kenneth Chesebro, who was indicted last week with Trump and 17 others, is now set for trial on Oct. 23, before that deadline.

If a trial doesn't start by that November date, then the defendant must be acquitted of all charges.

The state law stems from the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to a speedy trial but does not specify a time frame.

Will everyone in the Trump case have to be tried together?

No. Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the Trump case, on Thursday said only Chesebro's trial will begin on Oct. 23. The judge has not yet set a trial date for the other defendants.

Trump's attorney said on Thursday that the former president opposed Willis' request for an October trial date, but did not suggest an alternative. The former president said that he will ask to be tried separately from Chesebro.

Would having separate trials affect the case?

The sprawling 19-person indictment alleges violations of Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, law. That means prosecutors will have to prove each person charged in the indictment was part of an overt conspiracy to try and undo Trump's election loss, and witnesses may have to testify at multiple trials.

Melissa Redmon, a law professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, said that prosecutors will want to try as many defendants together as possible, "since the whole point of RICO is to be able to tell the full story of what everyone did and how their actions were interrelated."

(Reporting by Jacqueline Thomsen in Washington; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Deepa Babington)