The Georgia prosecutor leading the case against Donald Trump and a cadre of supporters over alleged election interference says that a former Justice Department lawyer — himself accused of ethics violations — doesn’t understand fundamental criminal procedure laws.
Jeffrey Clark, the former lawyer for the DOJ who is accused of lying about the DOJ’s position on voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election in the Peach State, is trying to get the Fulton County criminal case removed to federal court and asked a federal judge to pause the state proceedings in the meantime. He argued that federal law automatically triggered such a stay, and added that moving forward with the case would require him to make “rushed travel arrangements to fly into Atlanta.”
Prior to U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones rejecting the request, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had filed a response to Clark’s motion, arguing there was no legal basis whatsoever for Clark’s motion.
“Defendant Jeffrey Bossert Clark has moved this Court for an Emergency Motion to Stay the pending State court criminal proceedings against him based on an apparent misread of the applicable statutes, a misapprehension of the binding caselaw, and a fundamental misunderstanding of criminal procedure — both state and federal,” the DA’s motion begins.
The prosecutor pointed out that several of Clark’s co-defendants have already voluntarily surrendered ahead of the Aug. 25 deadline to submit to Fulton County authorities in order to avoid the issuance of an arrest warrant.
“As inconvenient as modern air travel can admittedly be, whatever nuisance involved in the defendant securing a flight to Atlanta within the window provided is self evidently insufficient justification to invoke this Court’s authority to enjoin a State felony criminal prosecution,” Willis’ motion says.
The Georgia prosecutor said that Clark’s request “runs flatly contrary to the plain language of the governing framework for potential removal.” She noted that the relevant federal statute specifically says that a removal request “shall not prevent the State court in which such a prosecution is pending from proceeding further.”
“The text of the statute unambiguously defaults to the State court proceedings going forward without impediment while the removal issue is heard and resolved in federal court,” Willis says.
She also rubbished Clark’s effort to apply a federal statute that normally allows civil cases to be paused during a removal effort, saying that Clark’s effort “misunderstands fundamental tenets of criminal law and procedure.”
“The theory the defendant advances could charitably be characterized as unusual,” the motion says. “As best the State can discern from his Motion, the defendant urges the Court to apply the automatic stay as if the State case removed was a civil proceeding instead of the criminal indictment[.]”
Willis said that Clark made “mistaken assertions of fact,” including that the Georgia matter is a “hybrid civil-criminal” case.
“Despite his determination to characterize the pending indictment against him as anything but criminal, the defendant has not directed this Court’s attention to any statute, case law, or other authority for his ‘civil-criminal hybrid’ theory of the criminal charges pending against him,” the motion says.
Willis also said that Clark simply waited too long to file the “emergency” motion to stay the Georgia proceedings.
“Defendant Clark boldly asks this Court for expeditious action when he himself has shown no urgency,” the motion said, noting that Clark “inexplicably waited seven days” after the Aug. 14 indictment to file a notice that he intended to try to remove the case to federal court.
“Because any urgency in the defendant’s situation is entirely attributable to his own delay, he should not be rewarded with a stay that deprives the State of the opportunity to first oppose removal of his criminal case,” Willis argues.
Read Willis’ motion, below.
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