Judge allows Trump to appeal Fani Willis disqualification ruling

Judge Scott McAfee declined to outright disqualify the Fulton County DA.

March 20, 2024, 12:30 PM

Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee on Wednesday cleared the way for former President Donald Trump to appeal the judge's ruling that ultimately kept Fulton County DA Fani Willis on the election interference case.

McAfee granted the joint request from Trump and some of his codefendants to obtain a certificate of immediate review -- which allows them now to appeal the ruling up to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

McAfee in his order said the order "is of such importance to the case that immediate review should be had."

It will now be up to the Georgia Court of Appeals to determine whether or not to take the issue.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis looks on during a hearing on the Georgia election interference case, March, 1, 2024, in Atlanta.
Alex Slitz/AP

McAfee said he intends to keep moving forward with the case while Trump and his codefendants pursue their appeal.

"The Court intends to continue addressing the many other unrelated pending pretrial motions, regardless of whether the petition is granted within 45 days of filing, and even if any subsequent appeal is expedited by the appellate court," the order said.

Trump's attorney in a statement called the move from McAfee "highly significant."

"The defense is optimistic that appellate review will lead to the case being dismissed and the DA being disqualified," said Steve Sadow, Trump's attorney.

The DA's office in a statement highlighted the McAfee's decision to keep the case moving, saying they will "work to move [the case] forward to trial as quickly as possible."

"As the case is not stayed during the appeal, this office will work to move it forward to trial as quickly as possible," spokesperson Jeff Disantis said in a statement. "We will limit our comment on the appellate matter to what we file with the Court of Appeals during the briefing process."

Nathan Wade, the lead prosecutor in the Fulton County election interference case, resigned as special prosecutor on March 15, hours after McAfee issued his ruling that either Willis or Wade must step aside from the case due to a "significant appearance of impropriety" stemming from a romantic relationship between the DA and the prosecutor.

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