Judge randomly assigned to Georgia Trump case once worked for Willis: report

Judge randomly assigned to Georgia Trump case once worked for Willis: report
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 14: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. A grand jury today handed up an indictment naming former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies over an alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images).

Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis' 41-count criminal indictment of former President Donald Trump and eighteen of his associates for allegedly conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election was randomly assigned to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, whom Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs of The New York Times reports "was once supervised by" Willis.

McAfee "rose quickly in Georgia's legal world after graduating from law school a decade ago, and one of his first jobs was in the Fulton County District Attorney's Office," Bogel-Borroughs writes. "There, he handled early stages of felony cases before being promoted to the complex trial division. The division was led at the time by Fani T. Willis, the prosecutor overseeing the Trump case, according to a former district attorney and another lawyer who worked in the office at the time."

Willis became the first woman elected as Fulton County's DA in 2021 after McAfee departed to lead the Office of the Inspector General. In 2023, McAfee, 34, was appointed to the bench by Republican Governor Brian Kemp, whom The Washington Post's Yvonne Wingett Sanchez recalls "praised McAfee as 'a tough prosecutor' who could 'bring those to justice who break the law.'"

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McAfee "served as the Georgia inspector general under Kemp, investigating claims of fraud, waste and abuse in the executive branch of state government," Sanchez continues. "As a judge, he has previously allowed video of court proceedings to air online, including on a YouTube channel that bears his name and title. He speaks to attorneys and defendants with a hint of a Southern drawl, the channel shows, and an American flag stands behind his chair on an elevated bench."

Sanchez notes that McAfee "is running for election to a full four-year term in 2024, according to his campaign website. Judicial elections in Georgia are nonpartisan."

Bogel-Burroughs observes that McAfee's "conservative bona fides" could shield him from "an opening for critics of the investigation" to complain about conflicts of interest, and statements from McAfee's colleagues appear to support Bogel-Burroughs' assessment.

McAfee is "a conscientious and thorough prosecutor, and fair,” said lawyer and Democrat Charlie Bailey. "A lot like Fani, frankly, in terms of those qualities. I'm quite certain he'll do a good job."

READ MORE: Special prosecutor to weigh indicting Georgia lieutenant governor for 2020 election plot: report

Defense lawyer and State Representative Esther Panitch (D-157th District) "said she had been on the other side of Judge McAfee twice when he was a federal prosecutor, and that she found him fair and kind," Bogel adds.

"Not every prosecutor is like that," Panitch said. "So I'm hopeful that he carries those qualities onto the bench."

READ MORE: Why Trump’s Georgia indictment is a 'reminder of the genius of American federalism': op-ed

Sanchez's article is available at this link and Bogel-Burroughs' is here (subscriptions required for both).

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