Friday saw Merchant's opening response to the prosecution. She contended that Roman can cross-examine and challenge the prosecution's accusations, requiring a hearing. She identified questions she would ask Wade that imply he and Willis lived together and started their connection earlier than he claimed.
Willis' side claims she has no financial or personal conflicts of interest that warrant removing her or her office from the case. The filing labels the charges “salacious” and “garnered the media attention they were designed to obtain
Anthony Michael Kreis, a Georgia State University law professor watching the case, called this “as strong a response as she could have made,” adding that the document recognized the connection, explained the date, and addressed financial difficulties. “I’m just left with the question of why did they not respond sooner,” he added. I suppose it's done legally. It seems chaotic politically.”
Trump and other Willis detractors have used claims about Willis and Wade's friendship to put doubt on the case. The former president has also accused Willis and the prosecutors in three other criminal proceedings against him of political assaults as he seeks the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Democratic incumbent Willis is running for reelection. It appears her personal contact with Wade contradicts a 2020 district attorney campaign declaration. On public access television, she declared, “I certainly will not be choosing people to date that work under me, let me just say that.”
Roman's motion concerns Wade's suitability for a sophisticated Georgia anti-racketeering trial. The district attorney defended Wade's suitability as prosecution team leader, saying he “has long distinguished himself as an exceptionally talented litigator with significant trial experience.
The document includes photos of Wade's legal awards. Willis also provided 2016 Merchant Facebook postings supporting Wade's Cobb County Superior Court judge candidacy. Merchant stated Wade is “ethical” and has “demonstrated his ability to be fair and impartial” in one post.
Willis argued at a famous Black church in Atlanta a week after Roman's motion that Wade's credentials and her hiring were racially motivated in an address. Trump attorney Steve Sadow accused Roman of illegally infusing race into the issue in joining her motion. Willis' answer indicates her public comments were “well within all legal and ethical rules and guidelines
Sadow said, “Apparently, the DA believes she can make public out-of-court statements about race, this case, and the defendants whenever she wants, and the Court is powerless to punish her by disqualification.”
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