Judge Denies Meadows’s Motion to Prevent State Conviction While Federal Appeal Continues

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By NTD Newsroom
September 13, 2023Politics
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Judge Denies Meadows’s Motion to Prevent State Conviction While Federal Appeal Continues
Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows arrives for the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life Americas annual gala and fundraising dinner at the National Building Museum in Washington on Sept. 13, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

A federal judge denied Mark Meadows’s motion to temporarily stay an order remanding a racketeering prosecution to state court while the former Trump White House chief of staff appeals it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

The new ruling, which is a tactical victory for Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat who initiated the racketeering prosecution, was made public the morning of Sept. 13.

The case has been watched closely because this is the first time that substantive arguments have been made in court in any of the four criminal cases that have been brought against former President Donald Trump and his fellow defendants this year.

Some liken Mr. Meadows’s motion for removal to federal court to a mini-trial for President Trump and his co-defendants and speculate that the treatment Mr. Meadows receives in federal court will be a bellwether for how the various Trump-related prosecutions will proceed.

Mr. Meadows, former President Donald Trump, and 17 co-defendants were indicted by a state grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, on Aug. 14 over the former chief executive’s challenge to the election in Georgia.

Attorneys for the former Trump aide filed an emergency motion in federal court on Sept. 11 out of concern that state prosecutors, who want to go to trial as soon as Oct. 23, could end up convicting their client in state court before his federal appeals have played out.

Some legal experts have questioned the need for the state-level trial to proceed with such haste and have said putting together a racketeering case, which by its nature can be incredibly complex, on such a compressed timetable will be difficult for both the prosecution and the defense.

The motion came after federal Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia ruled on Sept. 8 that he lacked jurisdiction in Mr. Meadows’s earlier motion to remove the state case to federal court. Judge Jones was appointed in 2011 by President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

In the underlying case, Mr. Meadows is arguing he is immune to state prosecution because whatever he did to aid President Trump’s efforts to contest the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, it was done in his official capacity as a federal officer, and he had federal defenses available to him.

Judge Jones ruled on Sept. 8 that some of the eight overt acts Mr. Meadows was accused of in the state indictment were within the scope of his duties as a federal officer, but others were not.

Mr. Meadows’s “political activities,” such as “working with or working for the Trump campaign,” went beyond “the outer limits of the Office of the White House Chief of Staff.”

The judge also expressed concern that “when questioned about the scope of his authority, Meadows was unable to explain the limits of his authority.”

In the new 10-page ruling, which was dated Sept. 12 but did not become publicly available until Sept. 13, Judge Jones declined to exercise his discretion to grant the requested stay.

“While ordinarily, remand orders are not appealable, Meadows sought to remove his criminal prosecution under the federal officer [removal] statute … which is an exception to the ordinary rule and provides the right to appeal.”

But, Mr. Meadows failed to meet any of the elements of the applicable four-prong test. He did not show he was likely to prevail on the merits of the appeal, that he would suffer irreparable damage absent a stay, that the state would not suffer substantial harm from the issuance of the stay, or that the public interest would be served by issuing the stay, the judge wrote.

Mr. Meadows’s preview in the motion of arguments he intends to make before the 11th Circuit was not different from the arguments he already made before Judge Jones, which the judge already rejected, according to the ruling.

And Judge Jones wrote that it is not certain that Mr. Meadows will even be tried in October, as he claimed.

“Meadows’s contentions that he would be irreparably harmed by the possibility of facing trial next month are insufficient to carry his burden on the emergency stay requested. No trial date has been set for Meadows, and he admits that it is not guaranteed his trial will be in October,” the judge wrote.

“Meadows has also sought severance of his prosecution and a stay of his proceedings in the State Court. … These motions are still pending. … The Court finds that Meadows has not shown irreparable injury based on continuation of proceedings in the State Court when the State Court has yet to rule on his motion to stay or schedule a trial date.”

Mr. Meadows’s emergency motion to stay the remand order remains pending before the 11th Circuit. His attorneys also filed a notice of appeal directed to the federal circuit court on Sept. 8 just hours after Judge Jones issued his remand order.

The 11th Circuit has a reputation as a conservative court, and some speculate it would be sympathetic to Mr. Meadows. Emergency applications arising out of the circuit court’s decisions would be directed to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, that court’s leading conservative, who oversees the 11th Circuit.

The Epoch Times sought comment from Mr. Meadows’s lead attorney in the case, George J. Terwilliger III, who works for the law firm of McGuire Woods in Washington, but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

The Epoch Times also reached out for comment to District Attorney Willis’s office. Jeff DiSantis, deputy district attorney in the media relations division, had not responded as of press time.

From The Epoch Times

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