Georgia election interference case: Judge McAfee plans to keep working

Fulton County Superior Judge Scott McAfee hears motions from attorneys representing Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell, two co-defendants of former US President Donald Trump, at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta, Georgia, on September 14, 2023. The (Getty Images)

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, who is assigned to the Georgia election interference case, plans to continue working on some pretrial motions while the Georgia Court of Appeals reviews his decision on the motion to disqualify District Attorney Fani Willis.

The appeals court issued an order halting the case against former President Donald Trump and others last week while it reviews the lower court judge's ruling. The appeals court tentatively scheduled oral arguments for Oct. 4 if they were requested. On Monday, Trump filed a request for oral arguments with the court.

However, McAfee believes that the order appears limited as it only lists the parties before the appellate court, leaving six defendants who do not fall within the order's command. They are John Eastman, Ray Smith III, Shawn Still, Stephen Lee, Trevian Kutti, and Misty Hampton.

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McAfee also wrote that Misty Hampton had filed a motion seeking a discretionary stay of proceedings, arguing that the eventual appellate ruling might disqualify the District Attorney.

In his ruling, McAfee points out that even if Willis is disqualified, the indictment with several statutory and constitutional challenges must still be resolved, and he does not believe that a complete stay is the most efficient course. Therefore, he must deny Hampton's motion.

The Indictment

Trump and his co-defendants were indicted in August 2023 after a 2-½ year investigation on charges of trying to change the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. The indictment included 13 charges against Trump, as well as charges against 18 of his allies. Four of those charged have already accepted plea deals from Fulton County. Some of the original charges have been dismissed, including three against Trump. Willis was initially pushing for a trial date for Trump and the remaining defendants in August 2024. 

Disqualification motion

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.

After 3 months of drama and a court hearing, Judge Scott McAfee issued a ruling that allowed Willis to remain on the case if Wade stepped down. After the ruling, Trump and several of his co-defendants were unhappy with the ruling and requested the Georgia Court of Appeals to review the lower court judge's ruling.