Judge allows Trump, co-defendants to appeal Fani Willis disqualification ruling

 March 21, 2024

Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee, overseeing the 2020 election interference case involving former President Trump, announced Wednesday that Trump and his co-defendants have the option to appeal the order rejecting the disqualification of embattled Fulton County District Attorney Fani Wills.

McAfee issued a certificate of immediate review, permitting Trump and eight co-defendants to seek an appeal of the order.

The appeal plan

The defense now has 10 days to file an application with the Georgia Court of Appeals, which will then have 45 days to decide whether to hear the case from March 15, when the order was issued. Georgia law does not mandate the Georgia Court of Appeals to hear the case.

"Upon review of the Defendants’ joint motion for a Certificate of Immediate Review, the Court finds 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,'" McAfee stated.

Steve Sadow, lead counsel for the former president, expressed optimism about the judge's decision. "The defense is optimistic that appellate review will lead to the case being dismissed and the DA being disqualified," Sadow remarked.

A limited ruling

McAfee noted that while the defense seeks Willis's disqualification, he will proceed to address other pre-trial motions in the case. Willis faced allegations of an "improper" relationship with Nathan Wade, a special counsel she hired to assist in prosecuting the case.

Trump and several co-defendants claimed Willis had a prior romantic connection with Wade and alleged financial impropriety related to his position in her office.

Both Willis and Wade denied these allegations. Following a court hearing, McAfee issued an ultimatum to Willis: either recuse herself from the case or terminate Wade. Shortly after the judge's order, Wade resigned.

What's next?

McAfee stated that the defendants failed to demonstrate that the District Attorney had an actual conflict of interest due to her personal relationship with her lead prosecutor. He also highlighted an appearance of impropriety and urged either Willis's office to step aside or for Wade to withdraw from the case.

"The judge clarified that his decision did not condone the District Attorney's actions but emphasized the court's adherence to relevant laws and issues brought before it," according to the Associated Press.

"Trump has pleaded not guilty and has denied doing anything wrong. The presumptive Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential election has characterized all the criminal cases against him as an effort to hurt his bid to reclaim the White House in November," it added.

The tensions continue to grow as Trump seeks his comeback bid for the White House and attacks on Willis extend following her recent probe.

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