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Tags: mark meadows | georgia | election

US Appeals Court: Meadows 2020 Election Case Must Stay in State Court

US Appeals Court: Meadows 2020 Election Case Must Stay in State Court
Mark Meadows (Getty Images)

Monday, 18 December 2023 03:54 PM EST

A federal appeals court on Monday ruled that former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows cannot move charges related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia to federal court.

Meadows was indicted in August along with former President Donald Trump and 17 others on charges that they illegally conspired to keep the Republican incumbent in power despite him losing the election to Democrat Joe Biden.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Meadows' request, affirming a lower court ruling from September. The ruling is a win for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who brought the case and is seeking to try the remaining defendants in a single trial.

Lawyers for Meadows did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment on the ruling. A spokesperson for Willis declined to comment.

Meadows' attorneys had argued during oral arguments before the panel on Friday that he should be allowed to move the case to federal court because his actions outlined in the indictment were directly related to his duties as a federal official. Prosecutors argued that Meadows failed to show any connection between his actions and his official duties and that the law allowing federal officials to move a case to federal court doesn't apply to those who have left office.

Circuit Chief Judge William Pryor wrote in Monday's 47-page ruling that the law “does not apply to former federal officers, and even if it did, the events giving rise to this criminal action were not related to Meadows's official duties.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that the purpose of allowing federal officers to move cases against them to federal court is to protect the federal government from operational interference that could occur if federal officials were arrested and tried in state court for actions that fall within the scope of their duties, Pryor wrote.

“Shielding officers performing current duties effects the statute's purpose of protecting the operations of federal government,” he wrote. “But limiting protections to current officers also respects the balance between state and federal interests" by preventing federal interference with state criminal proceedings.

Pryor also rejected Meadows' argument that moving his case to federal court would allow him to assert federal immunity defenses that may apply to former officers, writing that he “cites no authority suggesting that state courts are unequipped to evaluate federal immunities.”

The conspiracy to overturn the election alleged in the indictment and the acts of “superintending state election procedures or electioneering on behalf of the Trump campaign” were not related to Meadows' duties as chief of staff, Pryor wrote.

“Simply put, whatever the precise contours of Meadows's official authority, that authority did not extend to an alleged conspiracy to overturn valid election results,” Pryor wrote."

Meadows was one of five defendants seeking to move his case to federal court. The other four were also rejected by the lower court and have appeals pending before the 11th Circuit.

Moving Meadows' charges to federal court would have meant drawing from a jury pool that includes a broader area than just overwhelmingly Democratic Fulton County. It would have also meant an unphotographed and televised trail, as cameras are not allowed inside. But it would not have opened 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.

Four people have already pleaded guilty in the Georgia election case after reaching deals with prosecutors. The remaining 15, including Trump, Meadows and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have pleaded not guilty.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

A U.S. appeals court on Monday rejected an effort by Donald Trump's former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to move his criminal case involving alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election to federal court, upholding a prior court ruling....
mark meadows, georgia, election
Monday, 18 December 2023 03:54 PM
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