A court might hear arguments before the election on Fani Willis' role in Trump's Georgia case

An appeals court could hear arguments in October on the appeal of a lower court ruling allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to continue to prosecute the election interference case she brought against former President Donald Trump

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

ATLANTA (AP) — An appeals court could hear arguments in October on the appeal of a lower court ruling allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to continue to prosecute the election interference case she brought against former President Donald Trump.

The Georgia Court of Appeals on Monday docketed the appeals filed by nine defendants in the case, and said that "if oral argument is requested and granted" it is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 4. The court will then have until mid-March to rule, meaning the election interference case almost certainly won't go to trial before the November general election for which Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee.

The appeal is to be decided by a three-judge panel of the intermediate appeals court. The judges assigned to the case are Judge Trenton Brown, Judge Todd Markle and Judge Benjamin Land. Once the panel rules, the losing side could ask the Georgia Supreme Court to consider an appeal.

A county grand jury in August indicted Trump and 18 others, accusing them 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. It is one of four criminal cases against Trump.

Trump and eight other defendants had tried to get Willis and her office removed from the case, arguing that a romantic relationship she had with special prosecutor Nathan Wade created a conflict of interest. Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee in March found that no conflict of interest existed that should force Willis off the case, but he granted a request from Trump and the other defendants to seek an appeal of his ruling from the Court of Appeals.

McAfee wrote that “an odor of mendacity remains.” He said “reasonable questions” over whether Willis and Wade had testified truthfully about the timing of their relationship “further underpin the finding of an appearance of impropriety and the need to make proportional efforts to cure it.” He said Willis could remain on the case only if Wade left, and the special prosecutor submitted his resignation hours later.

The allegations that Willis had improperly benefited from her romance with Wade resulted in a tumultuous couple of months in the case as intimate details of Willis and Wade's personal lives were aired in court in mid-February.

Steve Sadow, Trump’s lead attorney in the Georgia case, said in an emailed statement Monday that his team looks forward to presenting arguments on “why this case should be dismissed and Fulton County DA Willis should be disqualified for the trial court’s acknowledged ‘odor of mendacity’ misconduct in violation of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct.”