Court deals blow to Big Fani’s hopes of pre-election Trump trial

A decision in Georgia poured cold water on Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and marked a minor victory for former President Donald Trump regarding the timing of his trial.

Hardly an October surprise, the Georgia Court of Appeals announced a tentative date to review an appeal from the president and a number of his co-defendants that may yet impact the November election. Specifically, three judges will hear arguments as to whether or not Willis will be allowed to remain on the case, potentially delaying the trial until 2025.

“President Trump’s interlocutory appeal was docketed today in the Georgia Court of Appeals, and oral argument is tentatively scheduled for October 4, 2024,” explained Trump attorney Steve Sadow in a public statement.

“We look forward to presenting argument before Judges [E. Trenton] Brown, [Todd] Markle, and [Benjamin] Land on why this case should be dismissed and Fulton County DA Willis should be disqualified for the trial court’s acknowledged ‘odor of mendacity’ misconduct in violation of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct,” he added.

In March, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee declined to remove Willis from the case that alleged the president had attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the Peach State.

As Trump and his co-defendants who were alleged to have participated in racketeering sought to at least delay the trial, a personal relationship between the DA and her special prosecutor assigned to the case, Nathan Wade, raised serious concerns.

After Willis and Wade testified, McAfee ruled that the defense had not met the burden of proof regarding an “actual conflict of interest” and offered a choice to the prosecution. The opportunity to have Willis and her office step aside or Wade withdraw. The special prosecutor took the fall announcing, “I am offering my resignation in the interest of democracy, in dedication to the American public, and to move this case forward as quickly as possible. I am proud of the work our team has accomplished in investigating, indicting, and litigating this case.”

Still, co-defendants sought a review of the decision that McAfee admitted had an “odor of mendacity” left lingering over the case from the mere appearance of impropriety.

“Whether District Attorney Willis and her Office are permitted to continue representing the State of Georgia in prosecuting the Defendants in this action is of the utmost importance to this case,” a motion from the defendants read, “and ensuring the appellate courts have the opportunity to weigh in on these matters pre-trial is paramount.”

“As noted, should such a review not occur until after any trial in this case and these decisions were ultimately reversed on appeal, such reversal would likely require the retrial of every convicted defendant without any additional showing of error or prejudice,” they noted.

Barring a stay from the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Washington Examiner indicated that McAfee would be able to proceed with pretrial motions and hearings ahead of the October review of Willis’ participation in the case. Meanwhile, with his documents case indefinitely postponed and his Jan. 6 case awaiting an immunity decision from the Supreme Court, Trump has begun the appeal process regarding his Thursday conviction in his New York criminal trial.

Kevin Haggerty

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