Georgia judge allows Trump to appeal Fani Willis disqualification ruling

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A Georgia judge enabled former President Trump to immediately appeal the recent ruling declining to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) over her romantic relationship with a top prosecutor overseeing the election interference case there.

In a brief order issued on Wednesday, Judge Scott McAfee granted the certificate of immediate review requested by Trump and eight of his co-defendants in the sprawling racketeering case.

They are now expected to ask the Georgia Court of Appeals to take up the disqualification battle before the case goes to trial.

“This is highly significant,” Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead Georgia attorney, said in a statement. 

“It means the defense is permitted to apply to the Georgia Court of Appeals for pretrial review of the Judge’s order refusing to dismiss the case or disqualify Fulton County DA Willis,” he added. “The defense is optimistic that appellate review will lead to the case being dismissed and the DA being disqualified.”

As the effort proceeds, however, McAfee made clear he won’t pause proceedings in his court.

“The Court intends to continue addressing the many other unrelated pending pretrial motions, regardless of whether the petition is granted within 45 days of filing, and even if any subsequent appeal is expedited by the appellate court,” McAfee wrote in his ruling.

Trump and his allies are accused of racketeering and other criminal charges by entering a months-long criminal conspiracy to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia. Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges as well as those levied in his three other criminal cases.

The former president and many of his co-defendants are attempting to boot Willis and her entire office from the case over the district attorney’s once-romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor who led the Georgia criminal investigation into the former president.

The romance revelation created a months long detour in the case that included multiple hearings full of salacious testimony. Last week, the judge capped the battle by ruling that Willis could remain on the case if Wade left. Hours later, Wade resigned.

Trump and his co-defendants are now attempting to bring the matter to a higher court in the state, hoping to reverse the ruling to stall the case or even get the charges tossed entirely. They contend the romance created an actual conflict of interest, a notion that the district attorney’s office has rejected.

“The March 15 Order is of exceptionally great importance to this case, substantially impacting Defendants’ rights to due process,” lawyers for many of the defendants wrote in their joint motion seeking permission to appeal. 

“Additionally, given the lack of guidance from the appellate courts on key issues, and the fact that any errors in the March 15 Order could be structural errors that would necessitate retrial(s), the grant of a certificate of immediate review is both prudent and warranted.”

Updated 11:22 a.m.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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