Defense attorneys for Waltine Nauta, a co-defendant in the Trump documents case, filed an objection to the prosecution’s request for a conflict-of-interest hearing regarding the attorney for another co-defendant, Carlos De Oliveira.
Special Prosecutor Jack Smith requested the inquiry, known as a Garcia hearing, because Mr. De Oliveira’s attorney, John S. Irving, also represents three possible witnesses in the case.
RestrictionsThe defense’s primary argument is that the hearing is not necessary because the law guaranteeing the right to independent counsel applies only to defendants, not to witnesses.
A Garcia hearing is normally used when the same defense attorney represents co-defendants in the same case. The purpose is to ensure that each defendant understands that the attorney might have divided loyalties.
Since Mr. De Oliveira’s attorney does not represent either President Donald Trump or Mr. Nauta, they argued, a Garcia hearing is not needed.
Witnesses do not have a right to independent counsel, Mr. Nauta’s attorneys said.
Even so, they did not object to holding a Garcia hearing but asked for limitations to be placed on it.
“Nevertheless, defense counsel does not now—and would not ever—oppose an inquiry of Mr. Nauta by the court to assure the court that Mr. Nauta has been advised of all his rights, including the right to conflict-free counsel, so long as such inquiry is conducted ex parte and under seal,” the defense wrote.
Testimony in QuestionOne reason for the request may be that Mr. Nauta’s attorneys want to exclude the testimony of Trump Employee 4, which could be disclosed in a potential Garcia hearing.
Their request to exclude this evidence rests on the defense’s claim that the testimony of Employee 4 was obtained in a grand jury proceeding that took place after Mr. Nauta was indicted, which violates court rules.
Essentially, the prosecutor used the grand jury proceeding that led to Mr. De Oliveira’s indictment, which was held in Washington, rather than in Florida, as a fishing expedition to uncover additional evidence for the charges against Mr. Nauta and Mr. Trump, the defense claims.
“Specifically, where, as here, a grand jury has returned an indictment against a defendant, neither that grand jury nor one in another district may be used for the purpose of garnering additional evidence to support the already-issued indictment, or to obtain pretrial discovery or engage in trial preparation,” the defense wrote.
President Trump and Mr. Nauta were charged on June 8. Additional charges were added and Mr De Oliveira was indicted on July 27.
Judge Aileen Cannon, who presides over the Trump documents case, asked the prosecution to explain what two separate grand juries were used in this case, one in Florida and one in Washington.
The prosecution has until Aug. 22 to reply.
The trial in this case is set for May 20, 2024.