New York

Manhattan Judge May Be Open to Moving Trump Trial Date as Cases Mount

The judge presiding over the criminal case against Donald J. Trump in Manhattan signaled that he could be open to changing the date of the trial — now set for March 2024 — in light of the handful of other potential trials the former president now faces.

But in a letter sent to to Mr. Trump’s lawyers, the judge, Juan M. Merchan, said he would wait until February to have that discussion, given Mr. Trump’s “rapidly evolving trial schedule.”

In March, the Manhattan district attorney’s office brought charges against Mr. Trump stemming from a hush-money payment to a porn star. The trial was soon scheduled for next March. But in the months that followed, Mr. Trump was indicted three more times. The cases, taken together, have created a legal logjam that coincides with the former president’s third run for the White House.

In his letter to one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Todd Blanche, Justice Merchan wrote that he did not believe it would be fruitful to discuss a potential change this month, “in light of the many recent developments involving Mr. Trump.”

Justice Merchan said that such a conversation would be more productive in February, when prosecutors and defense lawyers are scheduled to meet for a decision on motions.

“We will have a much better sense at that time whether there are any actual conflicts and if so, what the best adjourn date might be for trial,” the judge wrote in the letter, which was dated Sept. 1, 2023, but only recently became public.

The letter provides a look behind the scenes at the complications that have ensued after Mr. Trump was charged with felonies by three different prosecutors in four different states. He is scheduled to be put on trial four times next year, though many experts believe that only one or two of the trials will actually take place, given the complexity of the scheduling and the fact that Mr. Trump is again running for president.

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, has said that he would not insist on being the first to try Mr. Trump, though he added that scheduling decisions ultimately fell to Justice Merchan.

Justice Merchan has also spoken to Tanya S. Chutkan, the federal judge presiding over the case in which Mr. Trump is charged with conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, and that is scheduled to go to trial on March 4, 2024. It is not clear what they discussed, but prosecutors have said that in that case, the government could take between four and six weeks to present its case to the judge.

Mr. Trump’s other federal trial is scheduled for May 20, 2024 — in that case, Mr. Trump is charged with illegally retaining dozens of classified documents. His fourth trial — in Georgia, and also related to his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election — has yet to be scheduled.

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