Georgia prosecutors urged a federal judge to deny 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.
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 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 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 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.
Federal Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia had given state prosecutors until midday on Sept. 12 to respond to Mr. Meadows’s motion. Judge Jones was appointed in 2011 by President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
Mr. Meadows’s “motion does not show he can carry the heavy burden required to receive such a stay,” wrote F. McDonald Wakeford, a deputy to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat who initiated the racketeering prosecution. The statement came in a nine-page brief filed with the court before noon on Sept. 12.
Mr. Meadows’s “arguments do not actually address the reasoning of the Remand Order and instead talk around it. He asks for relief from purely speculative injuries. And he cannot cite to any pertinent public interest weighing in his favor, particularly when this Court has already found his arguments unpersuasive,” Mr. Wakeford wrote.
“The defendant has not made a ‘strong showing’ that he is likely to succeed on the merits,” he added.
Mr. Meadows “has presented no basis to conclude that he is likely to succeed in his appeal,” the lawyer wrote.
Mr. Meadows, President Trump, and 17 co-defendants were indicted by a state grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, on Aug. 14 over the 45th president’s challenge to the election in Georgia.
Mr. Meadows and all the defendants in the case are accused of violating the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act from Nov. 4, 2020, which is the day after the presidential election, to Sept. 15, 2022. The indictment states that the defendants “unlawfully conspired and endeavored to conduct and participate in, directly and indirectly, such [illegal] enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.”
Mr. Meadows’s attorneys said in the motion filed on Sept. 11 that he would probably be harmed if the stay were denied.
“Absent a stay, there is a substantial risk Mr. Meadows will be irreparably injured,” his lawyer stated in the motion.
“He has a right to appeal … and a stay of the remand order is prudent ‘to help prevent [this] removed case from becoming a shuttlecock, batted back and forth between a state court and a federal court,’” the motion states, citing a 2021 precedent from the 1st Circuit.
The motion states that “the irreparable harm has already begun.”
Before the stay motion was filed, Judge Jones had denied Mr. Meadows’s motion for federal “removal” of the case and sent it back to Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta because he found he lacked jurisdiction in the matter. Judge Jones was appointed in 2011 by President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
Several co-defendants in the case have also filed notices of removal with the same federal judge. President Trump himself filed a notice with the court on Sept. 7 indicating that he too may seek removal to federal court.
Separately, Mr. Meadows filed a notice of appeal directed to the 11th Circuit 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, who 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.
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 asked Mr. Meadows’s lead attorney in the case, George J. Terwilliger III, who works for the law firm of McGuire Woods in Washington, to comment 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.
It is unclear when Judge Jones will rule on the stay motion.
This article by Matthew Vadum appeared Sept. 12, 2023, in The Epoch Times.