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What happens if Fulton County DA Fani Willis is disqualified from the Trump racketeering case?

By 37ci3 Feb17,2024

If the Georgian judge a motion to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis from him racketeering Legal experts told NBC News that it could delay any trial against former President Donald Trump and multiple defendants until well after the 2024 election and possibly drop the charges altogether.

Take over the case spread for a new prosecutor 15-defendant case Amy Lee Copeland, a Georgia defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said it would be a “huge case,” adding that in theory a new prosecutor could change the charges or even “decide not to pursue it.”

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee held an event evidentiary hearing Thursday and Friday for allegations of wrongdoing directed at Willis and the special prosecutor he appointed to the case, Nathan Wade. One of Trump’s accusers, Michael Roman, described the couple as “not good, secret personal relationships” and “enriched themselves from this business.”

Willis and Wade have denied any wrongdoing. McAfee has not yet ruled on the motion, but said earlier this week, “I believe that because the facts alleged by the defendant are likely to result in disqualification, I believe that an evidentiary hearing should be held to establish the record on these underlying allegations.”

If McAfee were to grant Roman’s motion, it would dismiss the case, which currently has no scheduled trial date. If Willis was disqualified, so would his entire office, Copeland said.

Until 2022 Georgia lawif the district attorney is disqualified, the case is assigned to the executive director of the Georgia Board of Prosecutors, who is tasked with finding another prosecutor for the case.

“If Judge McAfee signs an order disqualifying DA Willis, it will be up to me to select a special prosecutor and appoint a special prosecutor,” said the board’s executive director, Pete Scandalakis, This was reported by NBC News.

Skandalakis, a former district attorney, said his office would “start by looking at whether it has not only the staffing and experience, but also the funding and capacity” to handle such a case.

“The bigger the job, the more it costs,” he said. It will also focus on issues such as “geography – closest to the site” and “who has a very high workload and who has a light workload”.

“You’re looking for someone who is a neutral arbiter and can make decisions based on the evidence,” Skandalakis said, and ideally someone willing to take on the case.

“As I read the statute, the DA can’t refuse the appointment, but it’s best to find someone willing to do the job,” he said.

In addition to the various DA’s offices, Skandalakis could choose to retain the case himself, turn it over to the state attorney general’s office or appoint a private attorney as a special counsel, but he said financial constraints make the latter option impossible.

“If I were to hire a personal attorney, the law would require me to pay the hourly fee of an elected district attorney, which is about $70 an hour, and I can’t pay for him to hire an investigator” or other assistance, he said.

He said whoever takes over the case can use investigative work already completed by the DA’s office, but they will have the option to do additional investigative work and use or dispose of some or all of Willis. indictment.

“You have to look at it like you’re starting from scratch,” he said.

Skandalakis, a Republican, said when asked how politics might play a role in his potential search: “I think it would be disingenuous to say that politics is not a part of any process, but I’m still looking for someone who can be neutral. and they can make their decisions based on the available evidence.”

J. Tom Morgan, a professor at Western Carolina University and a former DeKalb County prosecutor, said any new prosecutor’s job would be “lean” to make it “a more manageable, prosecutable case.” The current indictment is “a pig’s breakfast, complete nonsense,” he said.

But he added that it would take time for the new prosecutor to ramp up and then slow down. “Mrs. Willis’ office has been on this for two and a half years,” he said.

There may be other delays. If Willis appeals the disqualification order, Skandalakis said he would hold off on appointing a new prosecutor until the appeal is decided.

“If he wins the appeal, it wouldn’t make sense for me to appoint someone and then it’s back to him, so we’ll have to wait,” he said.

The disqualification statute does not set a timetable for taking action. Skandalakis said there will be no statute of limitations because the defendants have already been charged.

Copeland said any lengthy delay could lead to individual expedited trial claims.

He added that history does not indicate that the process of finding a new DA will proceed quickly.

In July 2022, Willis was disqualified Investigates Burt Jones, then a state senator running for lieutenant governor, as part of the Trump investigation. The disqualification came after he hosted a fundraiser to support a Democratic candidate running for the same job.

That investigation was later referred to the Board of Prosecuting Attorneys, which has yet to select a prosecutor to continue the investigation into the current lieutenant governor. “It couldn’t have been faster,” Copeland said.

Skandalakis said the case has various problems and limitations related to the court order.

“The two are completely different animals,” he said.

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