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Fani Willis’ ‘sordid scandal’ could make finding a jury in the Trump case ‘much harder’: experts

Legal experts say Fani Willis' “illicit affair"with Nathan Wade could complicate jury selection in the case against former President Trump.

After a Georgia judge gave embattled District Attorney Fani Willis an ultimatum to resign or remove her ex-lover and subordinate counsel, legal experts say their “illicit affair” could complicate jury selection in the case against former President Trump. 

On Friday morning, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee decided lawyers for Trump and several co-defendants charged in the sweeping 2020 election interference case “failed to meet their burden of proving” an “actual conflict of interest in this case” after alleging Willis benefited from hiring special prosecutor Nathan Wade, with whom she was romantically involved. 

By Friday afternoon, Wade resigned from his position, noting in a letter to Willis he was doing so “in the interest of democracy,” leaving Willis to move forward with the prosecution. 


But legal experts told Fox News Digital Willis’ “sordid scandal” further complicates selecting a jury in an already high-profile case.

TRUMP GEORGIA CASE: FIVE KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM JUDGE’S ORDER GIVING DA FANI WILLIS AN ULTIMATUM

“Judge McAfee said in his order that, ‘Whether this case ends in convictions, acquittals or something in between, the result should be one that instills confidence in the process,’” John Malcolm, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Atlanta, told Fox News Digital. 

“Fani Willis’ actions here have made that laudable goal much harder to achieve and will certainly prolong the process of picking a jury that does not have a preconceived opinion about what the outcome ought to be or how fair the process has been to the defendants.”

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While there’s no legal requirement to find a potential juror who doesn’t know anything about the case or hasn’t been following it, the judge must ask potential jurors if they can put aside whatever information they may have heard outside the courtroom along with whatever biases or preconceived notions they have about the case and focus only on the evidence presented in the courtroom.

“Jury selection is already a huge challenge in cases involving President Trump,” Jim Trusty, former legal counsel for Trump and a former federal prosecutor, told Fox News Digital. 

TRUMP ATTORNEY REACTS TO FULTON COUNTY JUDGE’S FANI WILLIS DECISION: ‘PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT’ 

“Having a sordid scandal play out in public hearings — and making inflammatory comments in church — will not make jury selection any easier,” Trusty said, adding there is a risk “prospective jurors might lie about their biases to be a part of the big case.”

John Shu, a legal scholar and commentator who served in the administrations of presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, said, “The prosecution of former President Donald Trump was already high profile. Adding the fallout of Fani WIllis’ illicit affair and scolding by the Fulton County judge only complicates jury selection.”

Willis, from the onset, has sought a trial to commence before the November election, less than one year after a grand jury returned an indictment. 

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But Shu says in light of delays resulting from the motions to disqualify Willis and the judge deciding earlier this week to dismiss some of the charges against Trump and his co-defendants, Willis is still “months away” from getting to trial. 

Fox News Digital reached out to Willis’ office for comment.

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