Fani Willis turns the tables on her attackers

Fani Willis turns the tables on her attackers

Jennifer Rubin writes:

Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis took the stand last week under attack from Michael Roman, former henchman 0f four-times-indicted former president Donald Trump, and many in the media and legal community. At issue was whether her romantic relationship with a special counsel, Nathan Wade, was grounds for disqualifying her from the sprawling RICO case she brought against Trump and nearly 20 co-defendants (some of whom struck plea deals). What was legally at issue — the narrow grounds for disqualification — appeared to have very little to do with the soap opera that unfolded.

Under Georgia law, a prosecutor can be disqualified only when there is a conflict of interest that prejudices the defendant. Norman L. Eisen, Joyce Vance and Richard Painter explained:

Under Georgia law, “[t]here are two generally recognized grounds for disqualification of a prosecuting attorney. The first such ground is based on a conflict of interest, and the second ground has been described as ‘forensic misconduct.’” Williams v. State, 258 Ga. 305, 314, 369 S. E. 2d 232, 238 (1988). There is no allegation of “forensic misconduct” in this prosecution. A conflict of interest may arise when the prosecutor has “acquired a personal interest or stake in the defendant’s conviction.” Id. “[A] conflict of interest requires more than a theoretical or speculative conflict. An actual conflict of interest must be involved.”

Having a relationship with someone on your side creates no prejudice to the other side. “Georgia courts have resoundingly rejected romantic relationships between attorneys as a basis for prosecutorial disqualification,” the authors explained. The only grounds for disqualifying Willis would have been a financial conflict arising from Wade’s contract to provide legal services to her office. On that score, the “financial compensation paid to Wade is consistent with well-established practice in Georgia and does not give rise to a conflict of interest warranting prosecutorial disqualification.” That left only one basis for disqualification: Any gifts (e.g., travel) Willis received from Wade that incentivized her to prosecute the defendants.

However, there was no there there. Willis left no doubt that no man paid her way. “A man is not a plan, a man is a companion,” she declared. “I don’t need anyone to foot my bills. The only man who has ever footed my bills completely is my daddy.” She paid Wade back for her half of trips with cash. She explained why she always carried plenty of cash: “If you’re a woman and you go on a date with a man, you better have $200 so if that man acts up you can go where you want to go,” she said. No one contradicted her testimony.

With sass and style, she demolished the accusation that Wade paid for her travel. Social media lit up with “A man is not a plan” posts, many from women who shared their cash-on-hand dating stories.

The conventional wisdom (among a mostly male, mostly White media) pronounced that Willis had irretrievably damaged her case. During Thursday’s testimony, some journalists breathlessly predicted she was doomed when an aggrieved former employee claimed the relationship began before Wade was hired. (Far more credible witnesses subsequently debunked that testimony.) Even more cringeworthy: Mostly White commentators sounded incredulous that an African American woman would habitually carry cash. That spoke to the racial ignorance that too often results from non-diverse newsrooms. [Continue reading…]

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