Fulton County judge says hearing against Fulton County DA Willis must move forward

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - A Fulton County judge ruled an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and others will be disqualified from the Georgia election interference case will move forward on Feb. 15.

"I think it's clear that disqualification can occur if evidence is produced demonstrating an actual conflict or the appearance of one," Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee stated.

Trump co-defendant files motion to dismiss indictment, disqualify Fani Willis

Michael Roman, one of former President Trump's co-defendants, filed a motion in early January seeking to disqualify Willis and her office due to an alleged romantic relationship between Willis and Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade.

"It alleges a personal relationship that resulted in a personal benefit to the district attorney and that is no longer a matter of speculation," McAfee stated. "The state has admitted a relationship existed. So what remains to be proven is the existence and extent of any financial benefit."                                          

<div>ATLANTA, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 21: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis appears before Judge Scott McAfee for a hearing in the 2020 Georgia election interference case at the Fulton County Courthouse on November 21, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Judge McAfee heard arguments as to whether co-defendant Harrison Floyd should be sent to jail for social media posts and comments that potentially targeted witnesses in the trial. McAfee declined to revoke Floyd's bond. Floyd was charged along with former US President Donald Trump and 17 others in an indictment that accuses them of illegally conspiring to subvert the will of Georgia voters in the 2020 presidential election. (Photo by Dennis Byron-Pool/Getty Images)</div>

"We definitely have a conflict in the evidence as to when this relationship started," defense attorney Ashleigh Merchant, who is representing Roman, argued in court. "We've got the date.  We've got whether or not they cohabitated.  We have whether or not there were any funds that he was paid that he used for travel with Ms. Willis."

Roman's defense attorney has subpoenaed DA Willis, Wade, and several other employees in the DA's office to testify during Thursday's evidentiary hearing, saying their testimony, along with that of Wade's business partner and friend Terrence Bradley who is also scheduled to testify, will prove Willis and Wade lied about their relationship.

Judge McAfee said during Monday's hearing that he would defer a decision on whether to honor or quash the subpoenas for the DA and other witnesses until after Bradly testifies.

One thing the judge made clear that he would not spend time on during Thursday's hearing is Wade's qualifications. McAfee said that as the district attorney can hire any lawyer with "a heartbeat and a bar card."

The hearing is expected to last 2 days.

Fani Willis, Nathan Wade: History of romantic relationship

Initially, Willis and Wade remained silent about their relationship, but it was eventually disclosed in a written response ordered by Judge McAfee before the upcoming hearing.

Timeline: Fulton County DA Fani Willis, Nathan Wade controversy

Last week, Willis filed a motion to quash the subpoenas compelling her and her staff to testify on Feb. 15. She dismissed Roman's attempt to disqualify her and Wade as a "salacious" effort lacking evidence for their removal from the case. Willis also refuted allegations that Wade was unqualified to serve as a prosecutor in the election case, labeling them as "factually inaccurate, unsupported, and malicious."

"The defense is not bringing you facts," Fulton County Prosecutor Anna Cross told the judge. "The defense is not bringing you law, the defense is bringing you gossip, and the state can not, and the court should not condone that practice."

Willis contends that Roman's motion is an attempt to harass and disrupt the case without substantial grounds.

Who did Trump co-defendant's attorney subpoena?

Roman's attorney issued subpoenas for the following individuals:

• District Attorney Fani T. Willis

• Executive District Attorney Daysha Young

• Deputy District Attorney Sonya Allen

• Deputy District Attorney Dexter Bond

• Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade

• Assistant Chief Investigator Michael Hill

• Deputy Executive Assistant Tia Green

• Chief of Investigations Capers Green

• Assistant Chief Investigator Thomas Ricks.

Additionally, Roman's attorney sought to subpoena the attorney who represented Wade in divorce proceedings and requested personal and business bank records belonging to Wade and his law practice.

In response, Roman's attorney filed a reply to Willis' motion on Friday, alleging that the district attorney has not been "forthright" about the relationship. The attorney claims that a witness, Wade's former partner Terrence Bradley, will provide insight challenging Wade's assertion that the pair did not begin dating until 2022.

Special Prosecutor Wade also filed a motion to quash the subpoena, saying that the request for records is overly broad and a form of harassment and intimidation.

Click to open this PDF in a new window.

What charges does Michael Roman face in Trump election interference case?

Roman is facing seven charges in connection with the DA office's investigation into alleged interference in Georgia's 2020 presidential election, including a violation of the Georgia RICO Act, conspiracy to impersonate a public officer, conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree, and conspiracy to commit false statements and writing.

Judge McAfee said he would defer his ruling on whether those subpoenaed by the defense would have to testify during the two-day trial, so they may be called to take the stand during the hearing.