Lawyer says Trump may have a defamation claim against Fani Willis

 March 18, 2024

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis gained national prominence last year when she indicted former President Donald Trump on multiple charges over his conduct following the 2020 election.

However, Willis was left scrambling last week after Judge Scott McAfee issued a scathing decision in which he said her lover Nathan Wade would have to leave the case. What's more, one legal expert says Trump could end up taking Willis to court. 

Lawyer: Trump could have a defamation claim

Colleen Kerwick is an attorney based in New York, and she told Newsweek that the former president may have grounds for a defamation suit.

"Judge McAfee held that 'an odor of mendacity remains,' which essentially impeaches the credibility of Willis and Wade," Kerwick was quoted as saying.

"Judge McAfee also held that Fani Willis casting 'racial aspersions at an indicted defendant's decision to file this pre-trial motion' was 'wading further into dangerous waters,'" she continued.

"Trump could sue her for defamation," Kerwick went on before acknowledging that the former president's case "would have to overcome quasi immunity for it to survive dismissal."

Willis' professional immunity may not cover church speech

To support her claim, Kerwick pointed to Georgia's 1983 constitution. It provides that "district attorneys shall enjoy immunity from private suit for actions arising from the performance of their duties."

"The rationale behind this immunity is that prosecutors, like judges, should be free to make decisions properly within the purview of their official duties without being influenced by the shadow of liability," Kerwick explained.

"The determining factor appears to be whether the act or omission is intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process," she noted.

Kerwick stressed that McAfee's assessment of Willis' conduct was "pretty damning" and suggested that Willis' professional immunity may not extend to comments she made at an Atlanta church earlier this year.

Trump lawyer filed complaint over Willis' remarks

Newsweek pointed out that Trump lawyer Steve Sadow filed a complaint over Willis' church speech in February which highlighted what he called "racially invective comments."

"The DA's conduct was indeed egregious. It was undeniably unethical," the magazine quoted Sadow's complaint as reading.

"Her MLK (Martin Luther King Jr.) holiday 'church speech' intentionally and in bad faith injected race, religion, and politics into the case and stoked racial animus by, among other statements, asking God why defense counsel and the defendants were questioning her conduct in hiring a Black man, but not his white counterparts, and why the judgment of a Black female Democrat wasn't as good as white male Republicans'," Sadow argued.

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