A federal court judge on Tuesday morning set Aug. 14 as the start date for former President Donald Trump's trial. The proceedings will take place at the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce.
But don't expect that date to hold, legal watchers quickly cautioned.
"There are just a lot of issues here that have to be dealt with, that need to be dealt with, which will no doubt cause the case to slide," said Richard Serafini, a former Department of Justice criminal division senior trial attorney. "Whether it slides a few months or many months really remains to be seen how it plays out."
Trump was indicted this month on charges related to his possession, mishandling and attempts to conceal government records, including classified documents containing some of the nation's most sensitive secrets. He entered a plea of not guilty during a federal court appearance in Miami on June 13.
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Tuesday's order also set a July 24 deadline for Justice Department prosecutors and Trump's lawyers to turn in pre-trial motions. The proceedings, when they do begin, will be held at the Alto Lee Adams Sr. United States Courthouse.
Legal experts said a number of issues, from security clearances for attorneys to negotiating over the redaction of secret files, will more than likely cause delays.
Serafini said setting a trial date just under two months away complied with the Speedy Trial Act, which calls for a court date to be set within 70 days of the indictment.
"In this district, it is routine that within a week or two of the indictment, the court sets a trial date. The trial date will be within the Speedy Trial Act period. That's exactly what the court did in this case," he said. "But there's a 100% chance we will not see a trial start on that date."
Another issue Serfini pointed to is the March date set in New York for the trial on the 34 felonies that Trump was indicted on this spring. Those charges relate to a purported cover-up of hush-money payments to an adult film actress in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.
"Trump has to be able to attend both trials, and he has to be able to discuss the defense in both trials," Serafini said adding that the timing of the federal documents trial, though unrelated to the New York state charges, may have to keep an eye on the court calendar in Manhattan.
The schedule set out by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon at the outset does place the first federal criminal trial of a former president ahead of the New York case, however.
Still, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said Tuesday he would be "surprised" if the case went to trial before the 2024 elections. In addition to the speedy trial requirement, Aronberg said Cannon may be seeking to blunt criticism hanging over her after an appellate court last year overturned some her rulings in the litigation between Trump and Justice officials after the search and seizure of records at Mar-a-Lago.
"The trial date she set shows judge trying to show fairness after being roundly criticized last year for perceived bias toward Donald Trump," Aronberg said.
As of early Tuesday afternoon, the former president had not commented on the trial date set by Cannon, who Trump named to the federal bench.
But Trump did issue an immediate comment on a different legal matter, news that President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanors charges related to taxes while also coming to an agreement with federal prosecutors on a felony gun charge.
In a post on his Truth Social site, Trump wrote that "our system is BROKEN," noting the U.S. Department of Justice "just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere 'traffic ticket.' "
Anthony Doris of the Palm Beach Post contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Judge sets Trump documents trial date at Fort Pierce federal courthouse