Trump, co-defendants asking to appeal Fulton County DA Fani Willis disqualification decision

The defense in the Georgia election interference case has filed a joint motion in an effort to appeal Fulton County Superior Court Judge McAfee's ruling on the disqualification motions against District Attorney Fani Willis and her office.

Steve Sadow, lead defense counsel for former President Donald Trump, released the following statement:

"President Trump and seven defendants have jointly filed a motion requesting the Court to grant a certificate of immediate review of its Order denying dismissal of the case and disqualification of Fulton County DA Willis. The motion notes that the Court found that Willis’ actions created an appearance of impropriety and an "odor of mendacity" that lingers in this case, but it nonetheless refused to dismiss the case or disqualify her. The motion further notes that the Court found Georgia case law lacks controlling precedent for the standard for disqualification of a prosecuting attorney for forensic misconduct. For these reasons among others, the Court’s Order is ripe for pretrial appellate review."

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. Trump followed with his own motion, and other defendants in the case also filed motions.

Loading Video…

This browser does not support the Video element.

Trump lawyers to appeal DA Fani Willis ruling

Defense attorneys in the Trump Georgia election interference case have asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to let them appeal his decision not to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her office.

After more than two days of testimony by Willis, Wade, former friends of Willis and Wade, and Willis' father, Judge McAfee ruled on March 15 that although there did not appear to be an actual conflict of interest, either Willis would need to recuse herself and her entire team from the case, or Wade would need to step aside. Later that day, Wade submitted his resignation.

Timeline: Fulton County DA Fani Willis, Nathan Wade controversy


According to the motion, which is asking for McAfee's permission to appeal his decision, the defense does not believe that the dismissal of Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade is adequate. The defense contends that the relevant case law requires dismissal of the case, or at the very least, the disqualification of the district attorney and her entire office.

The defense says it also disagrees with Judge McAfee's ruling regarding the speech that Willis gave at the Big Bethel AME Church on Jan. 14, during which she passionately defended the hiring of a "Black man." McAfee declined to disqualify Willis on the basis of forensic misconduct but did call the speech "legally improper."

Loading PDF

The defense is also arguing that the failure to disqualify a prosecutor who should be disqualified is a "structural error" that could necessitate a retrial without any additional showing of prejudice.


Additionally, the defense says that immediate appellate review is needed based on the personal stake Willis acquired in the prosecution, both through her actual conflicts of interest and the appearance of impropriety created by her actions.


In conclusion, the motion says that a criminal defendant is entitled to a "disinterested prosecutor" and claims that certificates of immediate review have been granted by courts under similar circumstances.

If the judge grants the application, the Court of Appeals will then decide if it wants to hear the appeal. 

The motion was filed on behalf of Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Jeffrey Clark, Robert Cheeley, Michael Roman, David Shafer, Harrison Floyd, and Cathleen Latham.

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.