Donald Trump sued to quash the entire Special Purpose Grand jury report in Fulton County Georgia, enjoin it from being used for anything, essentially demanding that it be burned so that it could never even be made public. He also demanded that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis be barred from prosecuting any cases against him, claiming she is biased. One of the fake Georgia electors eventually glommed on to the lawsuit.
Today a judge denied the request. You can read the nine page decision HERE. If you do, don’t skip the footnotes, there is a lot of fun in there. More on that in a minute.
The judge denied the request to quash the Special Grand jury report as premature. Only if it results in Trump being indicted, which it has not yet, can Trump challenge it. As shall be shown, the judge was openly skeptical about such a challenge, but made clear he was not ruling on it because the time to consider it was not yet here.
The judge denied Trump’s demand to never release the report as in clear defiance of Georgia law which requires they be released.
The judge denied Trump’s demand to recuse Willis because his claims of bias against him did not come close to the rigid requirements of Georgia law to compel such recusal.
Along the way the judge said some fun things. I’ll start with Footnote 3 where the judge addresses Trump’s claim that the investigation is a plot to undermine his candidacy for President. The judge responds:
“for some, being the subject of a criminal investigation can, a la Rumpelstiltskin, be turned into golden political capital, making it seem more providential than problematic. Regardless, simply being the subject (or target) of an investigation does not yield standing to bring a claim to halt that investigation in court.”
Footnote 4 also closes with a zinger. The judge discusses that standing is a Constitutional requirement. He cites two federal cases, to include the 11th Circuit decision overruling Judge Cannon’s creation of a special master to review evidence before the government could use it. The judge acknowledges those federal cases “do not control standing analysis” in Georgia, but that their “analysis of what constitutes actual injury, in the context of pre-indictment investigations, is instructive—if not memorable to Trump and his legal team.”
For a judge not ruling on the merits of Trump’s claim of due process violations, Footnote 5 seems to do exactly that. The judge acknowledges Trump’s claim that “a wrongful indictment is no laughing matter,” carrying significant stigma, but declares:
“in this situation, movants overwrought allegations of prosecutorial overreach and judicial error do not suffice to show there is a significant risk of a ‘wrongful’ indictment (or even a blot on an escutcheon).”
Special note, I confess this footnote prompted your author to look up the meaning of “escutcheon.” It is “a shield or shieldlike surface on which a coat of arms is depicted.”
In any event the judge certainly seems to be saying that since there is not “a significant risk of wrongful indictment,” that any forthcoming indictment would be rightful. The description of Trump’s claims as “overwrought” is also delightful for any who have listened to Trump’s incessant whining about this.
In footnote 6 the judge addresses Trump’s claim that the statute providing special purpose grand juries is unconstitutionally vague. The court then states that it is not ruling on that argument while nonetheless saying Trump’s position is clearly wrong.
“While this Court finds such an argument unpersuasive—as a plain language reading of the statutes (and the case law interpreting them) demonstrates— it is not reaching the merits of that position, given the ruling on standing.”
Footnote 7 further addresses Trump’s due process claims and has fun doing it.
“It is further important to note, in considering injury and standing (and lack thereof), that neither Trump nor Latham appeared before the Special Purpose Grand Jury. Thus, the litany of procedural and constitutional shortcomings they allege infected the Special Purpose Grand Jury’s work are all applicable to . . . someone not name Trump or Latham.”
I turn now to pages 7-8. In rejecting Trump’s demand to recuse Willis due to her supposed bias the judge not only says that her words have been measured calls for fair justice, but he compares that to Trump’s own inflammatory language personally attacking Willis.
The drumbeat from the District Attorney has been neither partisan (in the political sense) nor personal, in marked and refreshing contrast to the stream of personal invective flowing from one of the movants.
As the judge concludes:
The prosecutor is not a neutral party and does not need to pretend to be: she has a cause she has sworn to pursue, and in that pursuit of justice, she "is necessarily partisan in the case. If [s]he were compelled to proceed with the same circumspection as the judge and jury, there would be an end to the conviction of criminals."
Trump has been spending a lot of money to have judges skewer his legal positions.