Now that he is indicted, will Donald Trump get a speedy trial or push for delays?

Donald Trump waving to a crowd of supporters
Former President Donald Trump gestures after speaking at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., after pleading not guilty in a Miami courtroom earlier in the day to dozens of felony counts that he hoarded classified documents and refused government demands to give them back. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Donald Trump was indicted on federal charges—a first for a former U.S. president and the nation. 

Trump is being accused of obstructing a federal investigation into the unlawful retention of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and violating the Espionage Act. The 37-count indictment follows a separate indictment by a Manhattan grand jury in March, which alleges that Trump falsified business records tied to alleged hush money payments made in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

Following the Manhattan indictment, Northeastern Global News spoke to Rose Zoltek-Jick, associate teaching professor in the Northeastern School of Law and associate director of the university’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, about the likelihood that Trump would try to disrupt and delay proceedings while the 2024 presidential election gets underway. 

headshot of Michael Meltsner (left) and Rose Zoltek-Jick (right)
Portraits of Michael Meltsner, George J. and Kathleen Waters Matthews Distinguished University Professor and Rose Zoltek-Jick, associate teaching professor and associate director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project. Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Zoltek-Jick said delays would be par for the course, not least because it’s been a proven part of Trump’s strategy for dealing with litigation his whole career. 

With the first primary less than six months out, Zoltek-Jick says Trump will almost certainly look to bide as much time as he can. 

“I think what he will be angling for are enough delays that put him in the middle of this presidential campaign, where there will be an interesting call for the judge to make as to whether to delay the onset of the proceedings until after the outcome of the election,” Zoltek-Jick says. “Trump is hoping for reelection where he would surely argue that he cannot be tried while he is president, or he would preemptively try to pardon himself.”

While Trump has avoided major legal trouble in the past—he or his companies have been sued 4,000 times—what are the chances the former president, who just turned 77, finds ways to indefinitely postpone justice? 

Asked if she thinks Trump’s criminal legal troubles will survive him, Zoltek-Jick said: “Funny question. There are many steps between here and there, but I do think this will play out before his death, assuming he lives a long natural life.”

Some Republican presidential candidates have indicated they would pardon Trump were he to be convicted in the Justice Department’s case, which is being overseen by Special Counsel Jack Smith. Zoltek-Jick says that pardoning the former president would only apply in cases where there are federal indictments.

Looming in the background is the potential for yet more charges out of Fulton County, Georgia, where prosecutors are investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, and the DOJ’s probe into the former president’s role in the January 6 Capitol attacks. Trump’s mounting legal troubles also present the courts with the complicated task of navigating the cross-jurisdictional prosecution of a former president—an unprecedented moment for the legal system.

“If you ask me how the judiciary is going to handle two state trials and two federal indictments at the same time with one defendant who is running for president—I don’t know,” Zoltek-Jick says.

It’s perhaps more useful to enumerate the ways in which Trump’s legal team could delay a trial in Miami, where the classified documents case is set to proceed, says Michael Meltsner, the George J. and Kathleen Waters Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Law and author of the new novel, “Mosaic: Who Paid for the Bullet?

“While the government indicated it would attempt to hold a speedy trial, there are many impediments to such a result,” Meltsner says.

The first obstacle, Meltsner says, is navigating the top-secret documents involved in the case. “Because classified and confidential information is involved, defense counsel must be both cleared to see the documents and given the opportunity to analyze them,” he says.

“That will take time,” Meltsner continues. “The defense will engage in pretrial discovery and also make various motions and while, in my opinion, they are meritless, they will have to be briefed, argued and then decided by the judge—who can take as long as it takes.”

If there is litigation over any potential recusals—that will take time too, he says. The date of the trial itself is also up to the judge.

“Finally, note that while Trump was arraigned … no date for subsequent proceedings was issued,” Meltsner says. “In short, don’t expect a prompt resolution of this case unless some unexpected event occurs.”

Tanner Stening is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @tstening90.