Trump seeks oral argument in Georgia Court of Appeals against DA Willis

Former President Donald J. Trump has submitted a request for oral argument to the Georgia Court of Appeals, which has agreed to review Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee's decision on the motions to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the Georgia election interference case.

"President Trump has filed his request for oral argument in the Georgia Court of Appeals, currently calendared for October. We believe oral argument will assist the Court by highlighting and clarifying the reasons why the case should be dismissed and Fulton County DA Willis should be disqualified for her misconduct," said Steve Sadow, lead defense counsel for Trump in Fulton County. 

One of Trump's co-defendants in the case was the first to file a motion to disqualify Willis, based on her romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, whom she hired as a special prosecutor on the case. That motion was followed by motions from Trump and several other defendants.

Timeline: Fulton County DA Fani Willis, Nathan Wade controversy

After Wade and Willis admitted the relationship but denied any wrongdoing, McAfee issued a ruling that allowed Wade to resign and Willis to stay on the case.

The former president and other defendants were unhappy with McAfee's decision and decided to take the case to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

They agreed to hear the case, and oral arguments have been tentatively scheduled to be heard on Oct. 4.

According to the oral argument request, the appeal involves a novel issue concerning "forensic misconduct" to disqualify an elected District Attorney and her office. The term refers to actions by a prosecutor that might improperly influence a jury, such as expressing personal beliefs about the defendant’s guilt. The trial court applied the standard from the 1988 Williams v. State case but noted a lack of guidance on applying it, particularly regarding whether prejudice must be shown and how to measure it.

Trump's appeal centers on disqualifying Fulton County DA Willis for her extrajudicial comments, which included a speech made at a historic Black church on Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. In this speech, Willis talked about race and her communications with God, which Trump argues could prejudice the jury and violate professional conduct rules. The trial court did acknowledge the impropriety but did not disqualify Willis.

RELATED: Judge in Georgia slams Fani Willis' 'improper' church speech, 'playing the race card'

The appeal also argues the need to simplify a complex case with multiple related appeals, arguing that failure to disqualify Willis could result in costly retrials.

The court will then have until mid-March to make a decision, and the losing side will be able to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.


In the meantime, the court ordered a stay on the election interference case until the matter can be resolved. The one-page order was issued last Wednesday.

This means that it is extremely unlikely that Trump and the other defendants will stand trial in Georgia before the November election.

Last week, Trump was found guilty in New York City of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal. He is set to be sentenced on July 11.

A Fulton County grand jury indicted Trump and 18 others in August 2023, accusing them of participating in a sprawling scheme to illegally try to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Four defendants have pleaded guilty after reaching deals with prosecutors, but Trump and the others have pleaded not guilty.