Former Trump White House Chief Meadows hopes to block possible state conviction pending federal appeal

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Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows asked a federal judge to temporarily stay an order remanding a Georgia racketeering prosecution back to state court while he appeals it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Attorneys for the former Trump aide are concerned that because state prosecutors are hoping to go to trial as soon as next month in the case, Mr. Meadows could end up being convicted in state court before his federal appeals have played out.

Mr. Meadows’s lawyers say in the new emergency motion, filed Sept. 11, that not putting the remand order on hold will prejudice him in the ongoing criminal proceeding.

Federal Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia 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.

Judge Jones gave state prosecutors until Sept. 12 at noon to respond to Mr. Meadows’s new motion.

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.

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.

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.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat who initiated the racketeering prosecution, wants to try all the co-defendants as soon as Oct. 23.

Some legal experts have questioned the need for the trial to proceed with such haste and have said putting together a racketeering case on such a compressed timetable will be difficult for both the prosecution and the defense.

“Absent a stay, there is a substantial risk Mr. Meadows will be irreparably injured,” the new motion states.

“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.”

“Meadows was compelled to surrender on Wednesday, August 24, after the district attorney refused a modest delay of arrest pending federal removal. Meadows has since been compelled to waive arraignment, to post a bond, and to begin preparing a defense for potential state prosecution.

“Meadows has sought to minimize this harm by asking the state court to sever and stay his case.”

The motion notes that the state court “has not rejected the State’s aggressive timeline.”

“At a minimum, the court should stay the remand order to protect Meadows from a conviction pending appeal. Absent a stay, the state will continue seeking to try Meadows 42 days from now on Oct. 23, 2023.

“If the state gets its way, Meadows could be forced to go to trial—and could be convicted and incarcerated—before the standard timeline for a federal appeal would play out.

“The rights Meadows asserts ‘would be effectively nullified’ if the prosecution goes forward during this appeal,” the document states, citing precedents from the 5th Circuit and the Supreme Court.

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 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.

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

The Epoch Times also 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.

This article by Matthew Vadum appeared Sept. 11, 2023, in The Epoch Times.