Fulton County prosecutors ask Georgia court to reject Trump appeal

ATLANTA — Fulton County prosecutors have asked a Georgia appeals court to reject Donald Trump’s appeal of a state court ruling allowing District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) to prosecute prosecutions in the 2020 election interference case against the former president and several of his allies.

In a filing Wednesday evening, Donald Wakeford, deputy Fulton County district attorney and prosecutor in the election case, asked the Georgia Court of Appeals to reject the appeal filed by Trump and eight co-defendants because he had been “granted recklessly due to lack of appeal.” sufficient evidence. »

The motion references Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee’s March 15 ruling that allowed Willis to proceed with the case, arguing that McAfee made “explicit factual conclusions” that Trump and the others had not substantiated their claims that Willis had a disqualifying conflict. of interest.

“As this Court and the Supreme Court have repeatedly affirmed, Georgia’s appellate courts will not interfere with a trial court’s factual findings on controversial issues outside of certain very rare circumstances.” Wakeford writes. “When a trial court makes decisions regarding questions of credibility or probative value, reviewing courts will not interfere with those decisions unless they are categorically incorrect.”

The motion argues that McAfee granted Trump and his co-defendants “substantial freedom” to “gather and submit evidence” to support claims that Willis should be removed from the case, and that McAfee ultimately concluded that they had not met the burden of proof required for revocation.

“The trial court’s careful and thorough evaluation of the resulting record, and its total rejection of the central evidence provided by appellants, precludes any possibility of reversal,” Wakeford wrote.

The motion comes days after the appeals court stayed lower court proceedings against Trump and eight co-defendants who sought to remove Willis from the case over allegations she had an inappropriate relationship with Nathan Wade, an outside attorney she appointed. lead the case.

The court had tentatively scheduled oral arguments for early October, but postponed them due to a conflict, according to a court in negotiations.

No new date has been set, although it is unlikely to be until the fall, if the panel decides to hear oral arguments. A three-judge panel selected to hear the case — consisting of Trenton Brown, Todd Markle and Benjamin A. Land — has two full terms to issue a decision, a period that would end in the first week of March 2025. This calendar interim measure, if confirmed, would almost certainly delay any trial of Trump in Georgia until after the November election.

Wednesday’s filing raises hope among those close to Willis and the district attorney’s office that the appeals court might simply reject the appeal outright — which could put the proceedings, which have been at a standstill since, back on track. months.

Prosecutors were not expected to file a motion in the case until July — when they are expected to respond to formal appeal briefs from Trump and others, expected later this month. It was not immediately clear whether the court would grant the motion to dismiss or require Trump and his co-defendants to respond formally.

Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead lawyer in Georgia, who requested oral arguments in the appeal, called the filing of the charge “a last-ditch effort to stop any appellate review of Prosecutor Willis’ conduct.” He accused prosecutors of omitting McAfee’s criticism of Willis and his behavior in their March order.

“The State’s motion deliberately failed to mention that Judge McAfee’s decision indicated that a ‘smell of falsehood persisted’ during the hearing testimony of the prosecutor and State’s witnesses,” Sadow said in an email. “The judge also said there were “reasonable questions” about whether Willis and former prosecutor Wade were subjected to false tests. The State has already tried this gamble without success.

But in the prosecution’s case, Wakeford argued that McAfee responded to those concerns by asking Willis or Wade to leave the case. Wade resigned on March 15.

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