Co-defendant alleges conflict of interest and prejudicial public statements
In a recent development, defense attorney John Shafer has filed a motion to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from a high-profile racketeering case. This motion follows claims made by co-defendant Michael Roman, who alleged an “improper” relationship between Willis and special prosecutor Nathan Wade, hired by Willis to prosecute the case.
Allegations and Response
In response to the allegations, Willis admitted to a “personal” relationship with Wade but denied any conflict of interest. She argued that a conflict of interest must harm the defendant’s case for a district attorney to be forcibly removed.
Prejudicial Public Statements
Shafer’s motion claims that Willis has made a pattern of prejudicial public statements about the case through media interviews and public speeches. The motion argues that these statements were intended to “reject and infect the jury pool.” The motion references remarks made by Willis in which she addressed the affair allegations and made comments about race.
Prosecutorial Misconduct and Conflict of Interest
Shafer and his lawyers argue that Willis’ remarks constitute prosecutorial misconduct and warrant her removal from the case. They also claim that Willis’ employment of Wade and his financial benefits to her create a disqualifying conflict of interest. The motion alleges that Wade billed taxpayers for excessive hours of work and that Willis benefited from his padded salary by taking lavish vacations.
Characterization of Defendants and Evidentiary Hearing
The motion also accuses Willis of making improper and inaccurate characterizations of Shafer and the other defendants to the national media. They claim that these characterizations have been prejudicial to Shafer. Shafer requests that the court keep the scheduled evidentiary hearing on February 15, where both parties will present evidence to support the removal of Willis and her office from the case.
Defense Attorney’s Statement
In the motion, Shafer’s lawyer, Craig A. Gillen, acknowledges the discomfort caused by the allegations but emphasizes that they are significant and must be brought before the court. Gillen states that Shafer, an innocent man, has endured significant upheaval due to the charges filed by Willis.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s office has not yet responded to requests for comment.