Fulton County judge to call 900 potential jurors for Chesebro, Powell trial

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Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee is directing 900 prospective jurors to appear in court next month for the state’s trial against Trump co-defendants Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, both lawyers.

The order comes after McAfee ruled Thursday that former President Donald Trump and 16 others accused of trying to alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election will be tried separately from Chesebro and Powell, both of whom invoked their right to a speedy trial. McAfee wrote that he “will endeavor to have a jury selected and sworn by November 3, 2023,” in the trial of Chesebro and Powell.

On Friday, McAfee ordered subpoenas to be issued for 450 potential jurors to appear Oct. 20, and another 450 potential jurors to be at the Fulton County Court on Oct. 27. The trial for Chesebro and Powell is slated to start on Oct. 23.

Jessica Levinson, legal contributor for CBS News, said 900 is a high number for a jury pool, but understandable given the case.

“Is it very high? Yes,” she said. “Is it multiples higher than most trials? Absolutely. Is it exponentially higher than most trials that are happening in America today? Yes, absolutely. But it involves the former president of the United States.”

“I think the idea is that so many people will have strong ideas about the defendants,” she added.

Each juror will be asked to complete a questionnaire, but attorneys have yet to submit their proposed questions.

Powell and Chesebro, in invoking their right to a speedy trial, asked McAfee to separate their cases both from the rest of the defendants and from each other. McAfee agreed to sever the cases from the other defendants but not from each other. They have both pleaded not guilty.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wanted all 19 defendants to be tried together, but McAfee argued that was a logistical impossibility.

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Chesebro stands charged with seven counts related to an alleged effort to submit a false slate of electors from Georgia to elect Trump, and Powell stands accused of coordinating with a data company to access election data. Like all the other defendants in Georgia, they are also charged with RICO violations.

— Jared Eggleston and Melissa Quinn contributed to this report 

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