Georgia state senator, Trump co-defendant want all charges dismissed

Attorneys for state Sen. Shawn Still are vehemently contesting charges alleging he illegally interfered in Georgia's 2020 election by casting an electoral college vote for Donald Trump. During a court hearing on Wednesday before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, Still’s legal team asserted that their client acted under legal advisement when he and 15 others cast their votes for Trump on Dec. 14, 2020. 

Sen. Still, who was indicted last August alongside former President Donald Trump and 17 others in a comprehensive racketeering case, faces multiple charges including impersonating a public officer, two counts of forgery, and three other felonies. Notably, he is the only sitting elected official implicated in this case. 

During the motions hearing, attorney Tom Bever delivered remarks that could serve as his opening statement should the case go to trial. He highlighted that Still was qualified to be a GOP elector nine months before the December 2020 vote, which took place in a committee room at the state Capitol. Meanwhile, official Democratic electors cast their votes upstairs for President Joe Biden. Bever emphasized that this qualification was established well before Trump contested the election results. 

Prosecutors have charged only three of the 16 GOP electors: Still, former state GOP chair David Shafer, and former Coffee County GOP Chair Cathleen Latham. Several other GOP electors received immunity deals from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. 

Bever defended the integrity of those chosen as GOP electors, describing them as "upstanding members of the community." He argued that the setting of the electoral vote, conducted in a public space with court reporters, videographers, and media presence, did not align with the nature of a racketeering act. "I’ve never seen a fraud perpetrated in front of the public," Bever remarked. 

Despite this, Still faces a racketeering charge for his participation in the 26-minute meeting. Bever contended that there was no fraudulent activity before or after this event. He explained that the electors were advised by Ray Smith, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, that their vote was necessary to preserve Trump’s chances of reclaiming office if he managed to overturn Biden’s victory in an ongoing lawsuit. 

Prosecutor Donald Wakeford countered that Still is not accused of being an unqualified GOP elector but of misrepresenting himself as a presidential elector. "He was holding himself out as a presidential elector. It’s a discreet term, which he undoubtedly was not at the time," Wakeford stated. 

Bever and co-counsel Cole McFerren petitioned Judge McAfee to dismiss the charges against Still related to impersonating a public officer, making false statements and writings, forgery, and attempting to file false documents. Judge McAfee announced he would issue rulings on these motions later. 

Four of the original 19 defendants have reached plea deals with Fulton County. They include Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, Jenna Ellis, and Scott Hall.


Who is Shawn Still? 

Georgia state Sen. Shawn Stills

Georgia state Sen. Shawn Stills (Supplied)

Still owns a swimming pool contractor business. He was elected to represent the Georgia State Senate District 48, which includes portions of north Fulton, south Forsyth, and northwest Gwinnett County. 

Formerly, he was the finance chairman for the state Republican Party. 

Gov. Kemp appointed a panel after Still was indicted to determine if he should be removed from office while the case is pending. The panel, which consisted of Attorney General Chris Carr, Republican state Majority Leader Steve Gooch, and Republican state House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration, declined to recommend removal.