Meadows Denied Moving Georgia Elections Case To Federal Court

Mark Meadows was a former chief of staff to President Donald Trump. Meadows is one of many people charged as defendants with committing election fraud in Georgia. Meadows sought to have his trial removed from a Georgia state court and have his case heard in a United States federal court. A trial judge hearing the matter or motion denied Meadows’ effort to have his case transferred to federal court. Meadows appealed the ruling of the trial court. As reported, “a panel of federal appeals court judges has ruled against Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’s attempt to move his state charges to federal court.”

Meadows was “indicted alongside former President Donald Trump and 17 others on charges they schemed to illegally keep the Republican nominee in power despite losing the 2020 election.” Meadows legal theory justify removing his case from a Georgia state court to federal court is “that he is covered under the Federal Officer Removal Statute, which allows federal officials to move legal cases against them to federal court when they are related to their official duties.”

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled against Meadows in September, concluding that Meadows’ actions “were not related to his official duties but taken on behalf of the Trump campaign.”

Meadows appealed the ruling to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and a panel of three judges held oral arguments on the case Friday. As reported, Chief Judge William Pryor wrote in the decision: “At bottom, whatever the chief of staff’s role with respect to state election administration, that role does not include altering valid election results in favor of a particular candidate.” Judge Pryor added there was no “casual connection” between Meadow’s “official authority” and his role in the conspiracy of which he is accused.

Judge Pryor, an appointee of President George W. Bush,  “seemed doubtful during a hearing last week that “the removal statute applies to former officers who are no longer in their official roles.” Judge Pryor acknowledged that “it makes sense that Congress would write such a law for current federal officers who are still involved in running the government but the case of a former officer doesn’t involve the ongoing operations of the government.”

Some discussion of the questions asked the lawyers by the federal judges can be read here. An example of such questioning is illustrated by Circuit Judge Robin Rosenbaum, an appointee of President Barack Obama. Judge Rosenbaum asked prosecutor Donald Wakeford about a possible “chilling effect” on speech or behavior and provided hypothetical scenarios where federal officials “who do things that may not be popular as part of their official duties could change their behavior out of fear of a state prosecution that couldn’t be moved to federal court once they leave office.”

Prosecutor Wakeford responded to Judge Rosenbaum by asserting that “those hypotheticals involve an “abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”” The effort to remove the case from state to federal court has a significant strategic component. “Such a move would mean drawing from a jury pool that includes a broader area than just overwhelmingly Democratic Fulton County.” Additional reporting discloses that “It would also mean a trial that would not be photographed or televised, as cameras are not allowed inside.” Another intriguing consideration is that a conviction in federal court “would not open the door for Trump, if he’s reelected in 2024, or another president, to pardon anyone because any convictions would still happen under state law.”

D & B Staff

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