Judge allows appeal of Fani Willis ruling, but will not delay Trump case

ATLANTA — The judge on the Georgia election interference case has granted a defense request to allow an appeal of his order that kept the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on the case.

Fulton County Superior Court Clerk Che Alexander’s office stamped at 9:34 a.m. the “Certificate of Immediate Review” signed by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who ruled on Friday that Willis and her office could stay in the case if special prosecutor Nathan Wade withdrew, which he did on the same day after controversy swirled for more than two months around allegations about a romantic relationship between Willis and Wade.

But a legal expert told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne that McAfee’s new ruling also indicates the case will not come to a halt because of the appeal unless an appellate court says otherwise.

The certificate says, “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[.]’”

It also said, “The Court intends to continue addressing the many other unrelated pending pretrial motions.”

Bettieanne Hart who told Winne she headed the appeals division of the Fulton County DA’s Office for 13 years under a former DA, said the Georgia Court of Appeals still must decide whether or not to consider the appeal, but often once the appeals court agrees to consider a case, everything regarding the issues on appeal in the case is frozen until a ruling.


But not in this case – because of the way the judge wrote the certificate and because of the nature of the appeal.

“I think it’s a pretty cautious ruling,” Hart said.

Winne also spoke to Ashleigh Merchant, defense attorney for defendant Michael Roman, for reaction.

“What’s interesting about an appeal like this, in an appeal that’s pretrial, is that all of the issues relevant to this matter are going to be up on appeal. So things like evidentiary rulings, you know, where we asked to get into certain evidence and we weren’t allowed or we were allowed, that gets into the issues on appeal. So all of those different things that have to do with this motion, all of that will be considered on appeal,” Merchant said.

In a statement from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, it said:

“As the case is not stayed during the appeal, this office will work to move it forward to trial as quickly as possible. We will limit our comment on the appellate matter to what we file with the Court of Appeals during the briefing process.”

Merchant said the Court of Appeals will not only look at the disqualification issue but also consider whether the whole case should be dismissed.

Former President Donald Trump’s Georgia attorney, Steve Sadow, also sent Winne a statement, saying:

“Judge McAfee has granted the motion for a certificate of immediate review filed by President Trump and eight other defendants. This is highly significant. 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. The defense is optimistic that appellate review will lead to the case being dismissed and the DA being disqualified.”


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