Trump’s lawyer seeks oral arguments on Fani Willis appeal in Georgia case

Steve Sadow, former President Donald Trump's lead attorney in the Fulton County election interference case, is asking the state appeals court to hear oral arguments on his challenge to disqualify District Attorney Fani Willis from the case. (Miguel Martinez/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

ATLANTA — Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Monday asked the Georgia Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments on the challenge to disqualify District Attorney Fani Willis from Fulton County’s election interference case.

“We believe oral argument will assist the court by highlighting and clarifying the reasons why the case should be dismissed and (Willis) should be disqualified for her misconduct,” Trump’s lead attorney, Steve Sadow, said in a statement.


The appeals court decides most cases based solely on lawyers’ written legal briefs, according to statistics provided by the court. In the years since 2019, the court has only granted requests for oral arguments 32 percent to 41 percent of the time. Those outcomes do not include the many cases in which attorneys do not request oral arguments to be heard.

In the Trump racketeering conspiracy case, nine of the remaining 15 defendants are appealing an order by Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee. The judge found that while Willis’ romantic relationship with former special prosecutor Nathan Wade did not create a disqualifying conflict of interest, it was an appearance of a conflict that required her to make a choice.

In his March 15 decision, McAfee told Willis she could either recuse herself and her office from the case or Wade must go. Later that same day, Wade tendered his resignation. McAfee also found that Willis’ injection of race during a speech at Big Bethel AME Church on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend was “legally improper.”

In Monday’s filing, Trump’s lawyers said the appeal presents a novel issue the court has not yet decided — the legal standard judges must use when considering claims that a DA should be disqualified for forensic misconduct, such as making improper, prejudicial comments. That would apply, Trump’s motion said, to Willis’ church speech when she asked God why an attorney for defendant Mike Roman challenged the DA’s hiring of Wade, who is a Black man, but not the two other special prosecutors, John Floyd and Anna Cross, who are white.

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