Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Fulton County DA Fani Willis case against Trump can continue if she or special prosecutor Wade remove themselves, judge rules

By 37ci3 Mar15,2024

ATLANTA – A Georgia judge ruled Friday Fulton County Attorney General Fannie Willis should not disqualified from judging racketeering against former President Donald Trump and several co-defendantswith one main condition.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee ruled that the “appearance of impurity” created by Willis’ romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade should result in either Willis or his office walking away from the case. or simply Wade, whom he appointed to head the case.

The choice will likely be easy: If Willis were to recuse himself, the case would stall, but Wade’s departure would ensure that the case could continue without further delay.

“With deference to the Court’s decision, we believe the Court did not give due weight to Willis and Wade’s prosecutorial misconduct,” Trump’s attorney Steve Sadow said in a statement.

“We will use all legal options available to us as we continue to fight to end this case, which should never have been filed in the first place,” he said.

The judge also found that there was no “actual conflict” created by the relationship, a finding that called for Willis’ disqualification. “Absent sufficient evidence that the District Attorney obtained a personal interest in the prosecution or that his financial structure had any influence on the case, Defendants’ allegations of actual conflict must be dismissed,” the judge wrote.

“This result does not in any way indicate that the Court condoned this gross violation of the sentence or the unprofessionalism of the district attorney’s testimony during the evidentiary hearing. Rather, in the undersigned’s view, Georgia law simply does not permit a finding of factual conflict, even for repeated wrongful selection, and the trial court’s duty is to confine itself to the relevant issues properly raised before it and the applicable law,” he added.

However, the judge also found that “plaintiff was burdened with indecent exposure.” “As the case progresses, reasonable members of the public could easily wonder if the financial exchange resulted in some form of benefit to the district attorney, or even if a romantic relationship was rekindled,” he said. “As long as Wade is in this job, this unnecessary perception will continue.”

McAfee also suggested that he cast doubt on Willis and Wade’s testimony that they did not begin dating until after they were hired. “Reasonable questions about whether the District Attorney and his hand-picked superior, SADA (Special Assistant District Attorney), made untruthful statements about the timing of their relationship, require a finding of impropriety and the need to make proportionate efforts to cure it.” makes it stronger.”

The ruling is a partial victory for Willis and leaves open the possibility that the case could go to trial before the 2024 presidential election. If Willis were disqualified entirely, the case would have to go to another prosecutor, tasked with handling a case that Willis has been pursuing for more than two years.

McAfee’s decision comes after one of the defendants in the Trump election meddling case, a former Trump White House and campaign staffer. Michael RomanHe filed a motion to disqualify Willis and dismiss the criminal case. wrong personal relationship With Wade.

Roman alleged that Willis broke the rules to appoint Wade and benefited financially from his appointment, which has brought his office $600,000 to date. She also claimed they were romantic before Wade’s appointment.

Willis and Wade later admitted they were in the relationshiphowever, it began after the appointment of a special prosecutor in November 2021.

A judge signed off on an evidentiary hearing on Roman’s claims last month, warning: “Disqualification may occur if evidence is produced that demonstrates a factual contradiction or the appearance of one.”

Unusual hearing Willis and Wade, who lasted more than three days over a two-week period, both took the stand and testified that they had been dating for a little more than a year after their appointment and had not profited from his work. They both said that while Wade would sometimes pay for plane tickets for Willis on a credit card, he would pay her in cash or by drawing other bills.

In his decision, McAfee questioned Willis’ decision.

“Even though the romantic relationship began after SADA Wade’s initial contract in November 2021, the District Attorney’s Office chose to continue monitoring and paying Wade while maintaining such a relationship. Furthermore, without any specific or verifiable action, he permitted the regular and loose exchange of money between them. The absence of an approved financial division creates the possibility and appearance that the District Attorney’s award benefited, albeit immaterially, from a contract that was only within his authority and order.”

He also questioned some of Wade’s statements that he claimed he was not romantically involved with anyone else when he filed a lawsuit in the ongoing divorce case. “Wade’s patently unpersuasive explanation for the imprecise inquiries he submitted in his pending divorce suggests he was willing to falsely conceal his relationship with the district attorney,” McAfee wrote.

Roman’s attorneys brought two witnesses to support their claims about the timing of Willis and Wade’s relationship, including Willis’ former friend Robin Yeartie and Wade’s former law partner and divorce attorney Terrence Bradley.

The judge found that Yeartie’s testimony “resulted in a lack of context and detail while raising doubts about the State’s claims.” As for Bradley, who Roman attorney Ashleigh Merchant said was the source of their wrongdoing allegations, the judge said in testimony that he “can place no stock.”

“His inconsistencies, behavior and generally unresponsive responses laid a very fragile foundation on which to draw any conclusions,” the judge said.

Bradley told Merchant in a text message that Wade and Willis’ relationship “definitely” began before Wade’s appointment, but testified on the witness stand that he just speculated.

The judge said that “neither party has been able to establish conclusively by a preponderance of the evidence that the relationship had developed into a romantic one,” but “the stench of preposterousness still lingers.”

There is Trump and Roman he pleaded not guilty in a lawsuit alleging that they conspired with others to overturn election results in the state.

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