Trump vs. Fani Willis: Judge grants request to appeal Willis disqualification ruling

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Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee has granted the defense's request in the Georgia election interference case to appeal his decision related to the disqualification of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her team, including Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade.

PREVIOUS STORY: Trump, co-defendants asking to appeal Fulton County DA Fani Willis disqualification decision

The "Certificate of Immediate Review," signed by McAfee on March 20, says the request is granted, but the Court intends to continue addressing the other unrelated pending pretrial motions. This means that the defense can now submit an appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals. 

Steve Sadow, lead defense counsel for President Trump, released the following statement:

"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."

How it began

The original disqualification motion was filed by one of former President Trump's co-defendants, Michael Roman, through his attorney, Ashleigh Merchant. The motion accused Willis of an "improper" relationship with Nathan Wade, whom she hired as a special prosecutor on the case. The motion also accused Willis of financially benefiting from the case.

Timeline: Fulton County DA Fani Willis, Nathan Wade controversy

Trump also filed a motion to disqualify Willis after she made a passionate speech in defense of hiring a "Black man" at a historic Black church in Atlanta on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

Other defendants in the case also filed similar motions seeking the removal of Willis from the case.

Defense asks permission to appeal

On March 18, eight of the defendants submitted a joint motion for a Certificate of Immediate Review. In their motion, they noted that the Court found that Willis’ actions created an appearance of impropriety and an "odor of mendacity" that lingers in this case and that the Court found Georgia case law lacks controlling precedent for the standard for disqualification of a prosecuting attorney for forensic misconduct.

The defendants said that Wade's resignation was "insufficient to cure the appearance of impropriety the Court has determined exists."


Additionally, defendants said they disagreed with Judge McAfee's ruling regarding the speech that Willis gave at the Big Bethel AME Church on Jan. 14. McAfee declined to disqualify Willis on the basis of forensic misconduct but did call the speech "legally improper."

The request also pointed out that "A criminal defendant is entitled to a disinterested prosecutor." 

What happens next

The Georgia Court of Appeals will decide whether to hear the appeal or not. The defendants will have 10 days to file their appeal and the Court of Appeals will have 45 days to accept or reject the appeal. 

The Fulton County District Attorney's Office released the following statement after Judge McAfee signed the certificate:

"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."