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Fani Willis faces renewed prospect of disqualification after judge allows Trump to appeal ruling

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Judge Scott McAfee decided last week against disqualifying Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from former President Donald Trump's election interference case in Georgia.

Dissatisfied with the result — even though it led to Willis' lover resigning his post as special prosecutor — attorney Steve Sadow filed a motion Monday on behalf of Trump and several of his codefendants, requesting that McAfee grant a certificate of immediate review of the order to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Agreeing that the defendants' motions to dismiss and disqualify the Democratic DA "is of such importance to the case that immediate review should be had," McAfee granted the motion Wednesday.

The initial ruling

After multiple motions were filed on behalf of Trump and his codefendants accusing Willis of misconduct — beginning with attorney Ashleigh Merchant's opening salvo on Jan. 8 — Judge McAfee of the Fulton County Superior Court spent days hearing testimony concerning the Democratic DA's affair with Nathan Wade.

Despite some indications that Willis and Wade may have misled the court about the timeline of their affair, McAfee, who is up for re-election, opted not to disqualify Willis. Instead, he required either the Democrat or her lover to step away from the case.

Wade resigned hours after McAfee issued his March 15 ruling.

The judge did, however, note that when confronted with the details of her affair with Wade, as alleged by the defendants, "a prima facie argument arises of financial enrichment and improper motivations which inevitably and unsurprisingly invites a motion such as this."

Blaze News previously reported that McAfee also dragged Willis for the "unprofessional manner of [her] testimony during the evidentiary hearing," her "bad choices," her "tremendous lapse in judgment," and her "legally improper" remarks at an Atlanta-area church in January.

The push for an appeal

Sadow, lead counsel for Trump, filed a joint motion Monday requesting that the Fulton County Superior Court grant a certificate of immediate review of its order, stating that McAfee's disqualification ruling "is of exceptionally great importance to this case, substantially impacting Defendants' rights to due process."

Sadow highlighted McAfee's stated sense that Willis' conduct "had created an appearance of impropriety and an 'odor of mendacity' that lingers in this case, as well as the continuing possibility that 'an outsider could reasonably think that District Attorney Willis is not exercising her independent professional judgment totally free of any compromising influences.'"

The Trump attorney further suggested that the Georgia appellate courts would likely also recognize Willis' Jan. 14 speech, which McAfee recognized as "legally improper," as a contributing instance of forensic misconduct requiring the Democrat's disqualification.

Off to the races

McAfee agreed Wednesday that "the Order on the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and Disqualify the Fulton County District Attorney issued March 15, 2024, 'is of such importance to the case that immediate review should be had.'"

The judge wrote that his "challenged order is not one of final judgment, and the State has informed the Court that it has complied with the order's demands. Thus, unless directed otherwise by an appellate court, supersedeas shall only apply to the order being appealed."

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Accordingly, it is now up to the Georgia Court of Appeals to decide whether or not to take up the matter of Willis' disqualification.

McAfee signaled that he will proceed with unrelated pretrial matters in the meantime.

Sadow mocked those who suggested it would not be possible, writing, "So much for the so-called 'expert' naysayers who said Judge McAfee would not grant the certificate. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!!"

So that others would similarly know who he was referring to, Sadow shared an image of a post from Georgia State assistant law professor Anthony Michael Kreis who wrote, "I am increasingly skeptical that Judge McAfee will grant the certificate for immediate review. He essentially applied the defendants' preferred standard for disqualification and crafted a cure that the DA took within hours. I think there's reason to believe he's ready to move on."

Sadow suggested Kreis might "need a new crystal ball or Ouija board."

Trump's lead counsel also dunked on former Georgia state prosecutor and jury trial expert Chris Timmons, who cast doubt on whether McAfee would allow the defendants to appeal the order.

From the USA Today article by Josh Meyer - quote from Chris Timmons \u2014 "I doubt McAfee is issuing the certificate," said Chris Timmons, a former Georgia state prosecutor and RICO and jury trial expert. "If you look in the order dismissing the six counts, he put in a footnote that\u2026
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Sadow said in a statement obtained by USA Today, "The defense is optimistic that appellate review will lead to the case being dismissed and the DA being disqualified."

Keith Johnson, a Georgia-based defense attorney and former prosecutor, told the New York Post that McAfee's pretrial decision to permit the appeal is rare and will effectively arrest the progress of the trial.

"Practically speaking, the trial will not proceed until the Georgia Court of Appeals makes a ruling on Judge McAfee's order to allow District Attorney Willis to remain as a prosecutor on the case," said Johnson.

The Post indicated Willis did not respond to its request for comment.

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Court: Trump, GOP Co-Defendants Can Appeal Judge’s Retention Of Fani Willis

Judge Scott McAfee ruled Wednesday that Donald Trump and eight GOP co-defendants may appeal his decision to not disqualify Fani Willis.

Fani Willis isn't out of the woods yet: Trump's attorney seeks to appeal judge's disqualification ruling

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Judge Scott McAfee decided against disqualifying Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis last week from former President Donald Trump's election interference case in Georgia. Instead, he required that either the Democrat or her lover, special prosecutor Nathan Wade, step down.

Wade ultimately fell on his sword, resigning just hours after the Fulton County Superior Court judge's decision. This may have satisfied the judge, but the defense figured Willis still deserved the boot.

Signaling a potential continuation of Willis' disqualification saga, Steve Sadow filed a motion on behalf of Trump and his codefendants Monday, requesting that McAfee grant a certificate of immediate review of the court's March 15 order to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Background

Blaze News previously reported that while McAfee did not ultimately disqualify Willis on March 15, he did suggest that when confronted with the details of her affair with Wade, as alleged by the defendants, "a prima facie argument arises of financial enrichment and improper motivations which inevitably and unsurprisingly invites a motion such as this."

McAfee ultimately found that there was insufficient evidence that Willis "acquired a personal stake in the prosecution, or that her financial arrangements had any impact on the case."

He did, however, suggest that the lack of a "confirmed financial split [between Willis and Wade] creates the possibility and appearance that the District Attorney benefited — albeit non-materially — from a contract whose award lay solely within her purview and policing."

McAfee also blasted Willis for her "tremendous lapse in judgment," the "unprofessional manner of [her] testimony during the evidentiary hearing," her "bad choices," and her "legally improper" remarks at an Atlanta-area church in January.

Motion to appeal

Sadow, lead counsel for Trump, noted Monday, in the joint motion requesting the Fulton County Superior Court to grant a certificate of immediate review of its order, that the disqualification ruling "is of exceptionally great importance to this case, substantially impacting Defendants' rights to due process."

"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," added Sadow.

Sadow highlighted McAfee's stated sense that Willis' action "had created an appearance of impropriety and an 'odor of mendacity' that lingers in this case, as well as the continuing possibility that 'an outsider could reasonably think that District Attorney Willis is not exercising her independent professional judgment totally free of any compromising influences.'"

Sadow also seized upon McAfee's claim that Willis' racially charged Jan. 14 speech was "legally improper," noting that the Georgia appellate courts would likely go so far as to recognize it as a contributing instance of forensic misconduct requiring the Democrat's disqualification.

The defense attorney noted the "resignation of Mr. Wade is insufficient to cure the appearance of impropriety the Court has determined exists." According to Sadow, relevant case law would dictate the case be altogether dismissed but that Willis should at the very least be disqualified.

Sadow wrote that it is important to have the appellate courts weigh in on the matter prior to the trials, stressing there is precedent for doing so and a risk of otherwise spiking the trial's results in a manner requiring retrials.

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NBC News noted that there is not an automatic right to appeal at this stage and that McAfee would have to grant permission to do so within 10 days of his March 15 ruling. Furthermore, the Georgia appeals court would have to agree to hear the case.

If, however, the stars align and the defendants are able to appeal the ruling, then the already unscheduled trial will likely be kicked back a great deal further. Even without the appeal, it is highly unlikely the trial will occur prior to the 2024 election, and if Trump is re-elected, then he could request that the U.S. Supreme Court have the case delayed until he leaves office.

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It’s Time For Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp And His AG To Indict Fani Willis For Perjury

How can Fani Willis credibly prosecute Trump when there are reasonable questions about whether she lied in a Georgia court three weeks ago?

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