We've spent much time focused on the question of whether Donald Trump will be indicted and held to account by prosecutors in New York and Georgia, and by those within the Justice Department.
Now that a potential indictment seems imminent (at least with respect to the Manhattan district attorney's office), it is important to examine what to expect next.
Even in a more quotidian case, having a trial within a year of indictment would be quick.
Beyond Trump’s notorious abuse of the legal system by throwing sand in the gears to slow things down, a criminal case takes time.
The prosecutors need to turn over mountains of evidence they intend to use or that could be helpful to the defense at trial or sentencing. The defense is entitled to have time to digest all that material and prepare its case and to attack the government’s case.
And then there's motion practice. The defense can file all sorts of motions, and here we can expect both the routine and the arcane: motions to suppress evidence for violations of the Fourth Amendment, the state constitution and state laws. The defense can seek to have the government produce additional evidence. It can seek to transfer the case to a federal jurisdiction or to seek a change of venue due to alleged bias of a Manhattan jury against Trump. It can seek to have a detailed jury questionnaire to weed out unduly biased jurors. And it can claim that one or more charges are invalid based on arguments such as federal preemption or an improper interpretation of the state criminal code.
In short, there is no end of motions that can be filed to delay a trial, which could easily cause the litigation to be ongoing during the Republican primary season — something a court could also find is reason to delay any trial date.
Indeed, even in a more quotidian case, having a trial within a year of indictment would be quick. One data point worth noting: the Manhattan DA's criminal case against two Trump companies and former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg took nearly 16 months to get to trial (from charges being announced in July 2021 to jury selection beginning in October 2022).
So fasten your seat belts: This could be a long and bumpy ride.