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Local News

Thursday hearing in Fulton’s 2020 Georgia election interference case could be blockbuster

Credit: Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Stanley Dunlap, Georgia Recorder
February 12, 2024

An evidentiary hearing is set to be held this week in Fulton County Superior County Judge Scott McAfee’s courtroom to determine whether District Attorney Fani Willis committed prosecutorial misconduct serious enough to disqualify her from the historic 2020 election interference case.

McAfee argued at a court hearing Monday that remaining on course to start a hearing on Thursday is needed to obtain more facts and hear arguments regarding whether a romantic relationship between Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade was a conflict of interest that constitutes misappropriated taxpayer funds. Wade was hired by Willis in November 2021 to help lead a team of prosecutors in the investigation that resulted in a grand jury in August indicting former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants on sweeping felony charges that they illegally conspired to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election, 

McAfee said Monday that he will wait until the evidentiary hearing is underway before making a final ruling on whether Willis or Wade must comply with defense subpoenas ordering them to testify. 

McAfee said that there are legal grounds to warrant holding a hearing about actions that could be considered valid reasons to disqualify Willis, a Democrat who was elected to office in 2020.

Ashleigh Merchant, attorney for Trump co-defendant Michal Roman, argued Monday that subpoenas issued for Willis’ staff, a former colleague at Wade’s law firm and Wade’s father could provide insight into when the pair of prosecutors first became more than friendly coworkers and lend more credence into why the district attorney should be removed from the case. McAfee confirmed Monday that Wade’s former colleague and divorce attorney Terrence Bradley will take the stand Thursday.

Merchant says Bradley has non-privileged information he can share about his former business colleague’s relationship with the DA. 

Willis and Wade did not attend Monday’s hearing, which was conducted in person inside the downtown Atlanta courthouse and also via livestream. Willis’ attorney stated on Monday the defense lawyers are trying to force people connected to Wade and Wills to testify in an attempt to stir up salacious gossip rather than argue the merits of the case. 

Willis has defended Wade’s professional reputation against claims that he is unqualified. Willis argues that the defense lawyers have failed to demonstrate how their discretion in pursuing the case is no longer justified.

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. Wade has been paid more than $650,000 since Willis appointed his firm to handle the case.

A plea deal was reached last year that allowed four of the 19 defendants to avoid prison time in return for testifying against their co-defendants as state witnesses. The remaining co-defendants, including Trump, former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows have pleaded not guilty.

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.