The legal proceedings against former President Donald Trump and 18 others in Georgia are taking a twist, with rising concerns about potential conflicts of interest involving defense attorneys. ABC reported on September 20, 2023, that five of these lawyers had previously represented individuals now either acting as prosecution witnesses or co-defendants.
This situation poses an ethical quandary, as these attorneys may find themselves in a position to cross-examine their past clients. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, on September 20, highlighted these concerns in a court document.
The case against Trump and his associates alleges that their attempts to challenge the 2020 election results amounted to a racketeering conspiracy. Due to these potential conflicts, prosecutors are compelled to notify the court. If these lawyers continue on the case, they may require consent from their former clients to avoid violating Georgia’s Rules of Professional Conduct.
Illustratively, Scott Anulewicz, one of the defense lawyers, previously represented key figures now serving as prosecution witnesses, like Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Other defense attorneys, Amanda Palmer, Bruce Morris, Donald Samuel, and Scott Grubman, have similar past client relationships with potential prosecution witnesses.
As the trial’s complexities, based on Georgia RICO laws, unravel, the estimated trial duration is anticipated to be up to four months or more. The commencement of the trial for two defendants is October 23, while others will be tried later.
Many defendants, including Trump, are pushing for the case’s dismissal or its transfer to a federal court. The former President has also been vocal in decrying the prosecution’s approach, suspecting political motives as he contemplates a 2024 presidential bid.