Amicus Briefs May 19, 2023

Opposition to former President Donald Trump’s arguments to quash the Georgia special grand jury report into election interference

Issue Areas

On May 19, 2023, a bipartisan group of former federal and Georgia state prosecutors filed an amicus brief in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, opposing former President Donald Trump’s motion to quash the report of the Fulton County special grand jury investigating interference in the 2020 presidential election and to disqualify the District Attorney’s Office from further involvement in the case. The States United Democracy Center, the Democracy 21 Education Fund and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as co-counsel on the brief.

In 2022, the special grand jury spent months investigating attempts by former President Trump and his allies to influence the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. After hearing from numerous witnesses and reviewing evidence, it submitted a final report recommending indictments against several individuals. Special grand juries have been used in Georgia to investigate more complex cases. Trump now argues that the entire special purpose grand jury system in the state of Georgia is unconstitutional, despite the fact that it’s been in use for decades. Trump also argues that certain statements made by the Fulton County District Attorney require disqualification of the entire office from further involvement in the case.

The former federal and Georgia prosecutors assert that the arguments Trump has presented to quash the report and disqualify the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office are meritless and aim to improperly interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation. Under established law, Trump has no cognizable injury from the special grand jury’s investigation and report, and separation-of-powers and other prudential principles recognized by courts in Georgia and across the country prohibit such intervention in criminal investigations. Additionally, Trump’s argument that the special grand jury proceedings were constitutionally vague misapprehends the vagueness doctrine. Finally, there is no evidence of a conflict of interest or forensic misconduct from Fulton County District Attorney such that the office should be disqualified, and statements made by grand jurors do not prejudice Trump and show no legal errors.

The former federal and Georgia prosecutors assert that Trump’s arguments should be rejected entirely, but even if there were any purported errors that have occurred during this investigation cannot result in suppression of evidence because a separate regular grand jury will consider whether to issue indictments in a separate proceeding with its own procedural and constitutional safeguards. If Trump’s arguments are accepted, they can pose significant risk to decades of precedent in the Georgia grand jury system and of improper interference in ongoing investigations.

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