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Local News

Fulton 19 update: Prosecutor melodrama, squabble over documents, Eastman courthouse sighting

Credit: Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Stanley Dunlap, Georgia Recorder
January 22, 2024

In recent days, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has seen the historic criminal conspiracy case she brought against Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and his allies take a dramatic turn of the tables.

A Cobb County divorce court filing on Friday showing the purchase of two roundtrip flights for Willis and a special prosecutor Nathan Wade became the latest twist since an attorney for Michael Roman, a former Trump campaign official and one of Trump’s Fulton co-defendants, accused Willis and Wade of having an improper romantic relationship.

In Friday’s court filing, Wade’s estranged wife, Joyceyln Wade, claimed that she was not made aware in November 2021 that her husband had been hired by Willis to serve as a special prosecutor for the election interference investigation that would result in the lengthy felony indictment in August of Trump and 18 co-defendants.

The emergency motion submitted Friday by Alpharetta attorney Andrea Hastings comes in response to Willis filing a protective order against Joycelyn Wade. Joycelyn Wade was seeking to depose Willis in the divorce case in order to discern if the district attorney was having an improper relationship with Wade. 

Wade’s plane ticket purchases became public a day after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee scheduled a Feb. 15 hearing to discuss the allegations that a romantic relationship constitutes prosecutorial misconduct that should prevent Willis from overseeing the election case in the future.

 Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade, representing the District Attorney’s office, returns to his seat after arguments before Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee who heard motions from attorneys representing Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell in Atlanta on Sept. 6, 2023. AP photo/Jason Getz, Pool

Willis defended the professional reputation of Wade during a Jan. 14 church service. A former prosecutor, Wade has served as a Cobb County municipal judge for a decade and is a partner with an Atlanta firm that specializes in cases involving personal injury claims, family and domestic law, contract litigation and criminal defense.

The Wades’ divorce court drama leads the latest installment of the Georgia Recorder’s update on the sweeping Fulton 2020 presidential election case. 

Time-consuming evidence court hearing

Wade was also part of a team of prosecutors who attended Friday’s election interference court hearing for co-defendant Harrison Floyd.

McAfee appeared irked at times during a hearing in which Floyd’s attorney Chris Kachouroff protested that the Fulton County was not promptly complying with the subpoenas requests. Kachouroff complained about how long it’s taking to receive documents Floyd contends will raise questions about the credibility of 2020 presidential election results in which Democrat Joe Biden had a nearly 12,000 vote edge over Trump in Georgia.

The subpoenaed documents included hundreds of thousands of ballot images and other election related documents that have been a time-consuming process for Fulton employees to produce. 

One potential solution suggested by Kachouroff on Friday was that he could let the clerk’s office borrow a high-speed scanner that could greatly reduce the workload.

McAfee set a Feb. 2 deadline for Floyd’s team to more narrowly craft their request in order to give a more reasonable timeframe to receive the information. The judge also encouraged the attorneys for the state and Floyd to have more amicable communication outside of court about how evidence would be exchanged.

Floyd, a former leader of Black Voices for Trump, has pleaded not guilty to allegations of threatening and harassing an ex-Fulton election worker after the 2020 election.

Eastman makes surprise courtroom visit 

Fulton co-defendant John Eastman made an unexpected appearance at Friday’s court hearing, and his attorney was able get some time to argue before the judge that the indictment did not sufficiently describe how the co-defendants were connected in a criminal enterprise.

Eastman said he wanted to get an in-person view of the Fulton courtroom on Friday while he was visiting Atlanta for a fundraiser.  His attorney Buddy Parker then argued in court that the indictment lacks specific details indicating how Eastman made false statements during a post-2020 election virtual Zoom presentation to a state Senate subcommittee. 

Parker took exception to the indictment stating that Eastman was among several co-defendants who “corruptly” solicited Georgia legislators to appoint their own slate of presidential electors for the purpose of casting votes for Trump. 

“The word corruptly is an interesting word because it would appear to connote a degree of (wrongdoing) or a specific intent,” Parker said. “What is it that makes what was said corrupt?”

John Floyd, a special assistant district attorney general, responded that Eastman is implicated in the indictment for being involved in 16 of the 161 “overt acts” illegally committed by the alleged members of the election interference enterprise. The indictment lists Eastman’s communications with everyone from Georgia lawmakers to Trump to former Vice President Mike Pence, who would later oversee the process of Congress counting electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021. 

“The state isn’t required to allege the details of overt acts at all,” said Floyd, who’s considered the leading authority on Georgia’s RICO law. “We don’t have to allege elements. We don’t have to get into things like corruptly, which really just means illegally in a context like this.”

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.