Trump appeal to disqualify Fani Willis from GA case gets October hearing date

The Georgia Court of Appeals has tentatively set an Oct. 4 hearing date for the case brought by former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants for disqualifying embattled District Attorney Fani Willis from the case.

“President Trump’s interlocutory appeal was entered today in the Court of Appeals of Georgia and oral argument is tentatively scheduled for October 4, 2024,” Steve Sadow, President Trump’s attorney, said in a statement.

“We look forward to making arguments before Justices Brown, Markel and Land on why this case should be dismissed and why Fulton County Prosecutor Willis should be disqualified for the misconduct admitted by the trial court with a “smell of lying” in violation of Georgia’s Rules of Professional Conduct.”

Judge PJ Miller recused herself and Judge Brown replaces her.


Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis arrives to speak after winning the Democratic primary Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in Buckhead, Georgia. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The date is tentative, subject to motions by the parties agreeing to the date. October 4 is about a month away from the presidential election, which all but defeats Willis’ goal of getting the sprawling racketeering case against the former president and presumptive 2024 GOP nominee to trial before the election .

Order from Judge Scott McAfee in March said special prosecutor Nathan Wade had to be removed from his position in order to prevent Willis from being disqualified in Trump’s Georgia election interference case.

Trump and several co-defendants have alleged that Willis and Wade had a romantic relationship before her hiring and that she benefited financially from that relationship. Willis and Wade have denied the allegations.

Fani Willis and Donald Trump

Fani Willis and Donald Trump (Getty Images)

McAfee allowed the defense to appeal his decision, and the appeals court announced last week that it would hear from the defense that Willis still be disqualified. The appeals court agreed to hear the case last month.

McAfee’s ruling in March said the defendants “failed to prove that the District Attorney acquired a genuine conflict of interest in this case due to his personal relationship and recurring travel with his lead prosecutor “.


Fani Willis

Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis attends a hearing in the case State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump at the Fulton County Courthouse on March 1, 2024, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Slitz-Pool/Getty Images)

“However, the established record now highlights a significant appearance of impropriety that infects the current structure of the prosecution team – an appearance that must be removed by the State’s choice between one of two options,” he wrote, adding that Willis and his entire office can choose to withdraw, or Wade can withdraw from the case.

Wade later resigned as special prosecutor.

Both Wade and Willis denied they had a romantic relationship before he was hired and that the couple would share the costs of their joint trips; Willis said she reimbursed Wade for his share of the trips in cash.

In his March order, McAfee said that while Willis’s “reimbursement practice” was “unusual and the lack of any documentary corroboration understandably concerning,” he ultimately ruled that the defendants had failed to present “evidence sufficient” showing that the expenses were not “distributed approximately equally”. “.

He also said “the evidence demonstrated that financial gain from his relationship with Wade was not a motivating factor for the District Attorney to charge and prosecute this case.”


Nathan Wade

Former Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade arrives before Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis speaks after winning the Democratic primary Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in Buckhead, Georgia. (PA)

In February, Judge McAfee held a two-day hearing during which the defense, led by attorney Ashley Merchant, set out to reveal a money trail that would mean Willis had a conflict of interest in the case against Trump and should be disqualified.

“[T]“The Court finds that the record established during the evidentiary hearing has established that the case against the District Attorney is encumbered by an appearance of impropriety,” McAfee wrote in his order.

“As the case progresses, reasonable members of the public could easily question whether the financial exchanges continued, resulting in some form of benefit to the district attorney, or even whether the romantic relationship resumed. “

“In other words, an outsider might reasonably believe that the district attorney is not exercising independent professional judgment, completely free from compromising influence. As long as Wade remains on the case, this unhelpful perception will persist,” he said. he declared.


Willis and Wade insisted their relationship began in 2022, after Wade was hired. But they contradicted the testimony of Robin Yeartie, a former “good friend” of Willis and former employee of the district attorney’s office.

Yeartie said she had “no doubt” that Willis and Wade’s relationship began in 2019, after the two met at a conference.

When the defense submitted a joint motion in March for a certificate of immediate review, McAfee said his order on the defendants’ motions to dismiss and disqualify the Fulton County prosecutor, issued March 15, “is d “of such importance to the case that an immediate review should be obtained” and allowed the defendants to ask the Georgia Court of Appeals for an opportunity to appeal, which the court granted last month.