Prosecutors in Georgia Still Abusing Their Over Broad RICO Law

You might remember me complaining that the way Fulton County Attorney’s Office was ridiculous with their application of their state’s RICO provisio. I said that it was absurd, abusive and would lead to further abuse of it.
Well further evidence of that abuse is now here, and it is very ugly. Via the Washington Post:

“A Georgia grand jury has indicted 61 people on racketeering charges connected to protests that seek to block the building of the planned police and firefighter training facility in Atlanta that has been referred by critics as “Cop City.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr (R) announced the sweeping indictment Tuesday after a long-running state investigation that mainly focused on members of Defend the Atlanta Forest, which prosecutors called an “anti-government, anti-police, and anti-corporate extremist organization” that has supported a violent movement against law enforcement since the 2020 racial justice protests.The 109-page indictment was filed in Fulton County on Aug. 29, just weeks after the same grand jury charged former president Donald Trump with racketeering charges under the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, in connection with efforts to overturn President Biden’s 2020 win in Georgia.”

Yes, you read that right, the same grand jury that rendered the sprawling Trump and friends indictment. At least this time the State of Georgia acted through its proper Attorney General, and not through a local county attorney who took it upon herself.

“Designed to prosecute a criminal enterprise, the law has also been used against gang leaders and human traffickers. The Georgia RICO law is one of the broadest in the country. It allows prosecutors to weave together a wide variety of alleged crimes, including violations of state and federal laws, and even activities in other states. The charges brought against the activists is the latest example of Georgia prosecutors bringing racketeering counts in prominent cases.”

Yeah, no kidding. Yes, RICO was gratuitous as to Trump. In fact, I think it made the Fulton County indictment weaker if cases go to trial. It is complex and confusing. And a jury may well find it so. Or not. We’ll see.
As to the protestors, keep in mind that the minimum sentence is 5 years prison. Same for Trump et. al. A judge can modify that, but what if a judge doesn’t? 

This is now going to spread outside of Georgia, and that is very much not a good thing. It was designed for mob bosses, and then drug cartels, and nobody cares about that use. But expansion like in GA to political speach and acts is really bad. It is more than bad, it is heinous. It is a stain and blight on the American criminal justice system.

I warned that what has, and was, being done in Georgia was dangerous. And this is just then tip of the iceberg coming because it will spread.

For anybody that has forgotten, here is Ken White, aka Popehat, on RICO.And, yeah, he pretty much maintains that as to the Trump et. al indictment in Fulton County:

“I am not a Georgia law expert. Federal RICO against Trump would be extremely implausible. Georgia RICO? Won’t speculate. I will say that Georgia RICO seems like a needlessly convoluted and performative approach, but DAs gonna DA.”

That was from Ken’s Mastodon account. He has also said:

“In my view, the Georgia RICO indictment is gratuitous, self-indulgent, and careless of the appearance of legitimacy.”

That is being kind, and the indictment of the protestors for RICO is even more absurd. The moral of the story is be careful of what you cheer for, because what Georgia is doing is truly egregious.

126 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    Lol, in somewhat breaking news, Yuscil Taveras, a former Trump Mar a Lago IT worker, has rolled, struck a cooperation agreement with Jack Smith, and implicated Nauta, de Olivera and Trump himself in efforts to delete security camera footage. That is big.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Woodward is already crying foul about what SC Smith did to induce Taveras to flip. Since we are talking Judge Cannon’s court here, what do you think are the prospects that she will throw out Taveras’ testimony as ‘tainted’?

        • bmaz says:

          I think any appellate court would reverse that. People change lawyers and cut deals every day. Not sure even Cannon would bite off on that.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Jack Smith’s prosecutors did what their peers do every day: use evidence they have to persuade defendants to plea, flip, or cooperate. Saying that’s impermissible would wreak havoc in the criminal justice system.

        Here, they were also promoting something broader than efficiency. Taveras has a right to representation by unconflicted counsel. They pursued the matter appropriately, through a Garcia hearing, and a federal judge signed off on the process and outcome – assisting Taveras to fire Woodward and replace him with a qualified FPD.

        Woodward’s blowing smoke, and trying to retain his principle apparent sources of income. Cannon might happily inhale, but she won’t win on this point.

  2. T A EZ Frye says:

    I remember back in law school when the “Starbucks Murderers” were subjected to RICO prosecution.

    First encounter with it for most students didn’t leave a good impression and that sure has certain changed with each new permutation.

    • T A EZ Frye says:

      Christ, my grammar is as poor as the legal basis for these RICO prosecutions…

      Apologies for not finding the edit tab

      • Spencer Dawkins says:

        If there’s still an edit tab, *I* can’t find it. I comment without logging in – are other people still seeing one? I was getting 5 minutes to edit or delete posts, and I noticed that wasn’t the case probably two weeks ago.

        The good news is that I post less, because I don’t want to post something stupid or illiterate with no chance to edit.

  3. PJB2point0 says:

    I could use some help in understanding how the Georgia case will be scheduled. The Judge today ruled Chesbro and Powell will not be severed and the DA wants all 19 defendants tried together in October for a case spanning at least 4 months and 150 witnesses. The Judge says that’s probably an unrealistically soon start to the trial which makes sense to me given the motions to remove. But, if Chesbro is entitled to and does not waive his right to speedy trial but is not entitled to severance, how can this work?

    I know you say the DA’s use of RICO was an overplay and I get that. But, now that they’ve gone that route, what is likely to happen?

      • PJB2point0 says:

        Right, but does it mean Chesbro has essentially forced the other 18 defendants to go to trial in October, since he wants October and can’t sever?

        • Ravenous hoarde says:

          I could be very wrong.

          But my understanding was the severance was denied for these two specifically.

          But timing for the other 17 is still up in the air to be decided later.

        • PJB2point0 says:

          Meaning, they’re not severed from each other but could still be from the rest? So, possible two (or more trials)? Like a fast track trial and a slow track trial?

        • Ravenous hoarde says:

          I’m only comfortable quoting my understanding via Anna Bower

          “ To clarify: The judge denied the motions to sever Chesebro and Powell *as to each other.*

          Still unclear what happens with the remainder of 17 co-defendants, but McAfee seemed skeptical about trying everyone together in October.”

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, but the Fulton County attorneys office still, incredibly, thinks they can try the other 17 in one trial. Like so much out of Fulton County, that is absurd beyond belief.

        • ernesto1581 says:

          Shuffling in and out of the courtroom together, shackled at the ankles, like “…an immense charm bracelet.”

          Is this really going to end up as badly as it seems..?

        • Frank Probst says:

          Dumb non-lawyer guy viewpoint:

          I agree that it’s absurd to think you can try all 17 of them together, but do you think that they can convince a judge that they can try them all together?

          I would’ve guessed “no”, but they just convinced a judge that they can–and should–try Chesebro and Powell together, and as both their legal teams have argued, they were doing different things in different places and had no direction connection whatsoever to one another. Chesebro looks to me like he’s in a very bad spot right now. And that’s WITHOUT throwing Eastman into the mix. This may be the point where Chesebro realizes that he’s not going to get a better plea bargain in the future, and that could start the dominoes falling.

          I think the Chesebro/Powell ruling may nudge Judge Jones into keeping Mark Meadows in state court, too, because a different judge has now more-or-less ruled that this is going to be a Georgia RICO trial, and the prosecution’s brief a week ago was all about how even a single act that does NOT fall under the color of office puts Meadows on the hook for a Georgia RICO charge.

          (I’m not saying any of this is “good law”. This is just where it looks like it’s heading from my viewpoint. Other viewpoints–especially ones that tear this one to shreds, are, as always, welcome.)

        • bmaz says:

          I don’t see how it can logistically be done, and the judge seemed to think that as well. 17 defendants and a lot will have at least two attorneys. Where you going to put them all in the courtroom? I don’t think Fulton County has a courtroom big enough for that. It is fine for pre-trial I guess, but impossible for trial.

        • PJB2point0 says:

          I also wonder how the issue of removal will further complicate this. From what I have read (most recently by Wittes and Bowers), there is a fair chance Meadows at least will be successful in obtaining removal to federal court, at least for litigation of the supremacy clause defense (although remand back to state court if they lose is possible).

        • ThomasJ7777 says:

          I never believed that Willis really intended to try all 19 at once.

          I believe that she is using this as a tactic to force several of them to flip.

          My prediction is that once the date is set for all 19, and the process gets real for them, that these will be the first to flip:
          Roman, Ellis, Meadows, Kutti, Lee, Floyd, Smith.

          That brings it down to 12, and then it looks a lot more likely. The closer it gets to jury selection, more of them will flip: Shafer, Still, Cheeley and Hampton. These four will likely hang in there until the plans by GA Senate Republicans to oust Willis come crashing down, about mid October.

          Then there are eight, and I think they will be tried:
          Trump, Giuliani, Eastman, Clark, Cheese, Powell, Latham and Hall.
          The only other possible flips are financial issues flips: Latham, Hall.
          But I believe all 8 of them are nutcase crackpots who won’t see reality until they are remanded pending sentencing.

        • bmaz says:

          Except both Willis in a presser, and her deputies in open court, swore they did. Even when pressed by the judge. Are you implying they engaged in a lack of candor?

          By the way, I don’t see how they can try even 12 at one time. Trust me, it gets crazy even with only four or five.

        • timbozone says:

          Huh? Whether it’s tried fast or slow, in multiple jurisdictions or not, all at the same time or separate, is mainly up to the defendants and the judges involved at this point, not the Fulton County DA’s office. Chesebro and Powell filed to have their trials accelerated. Meadows, Clark, and the Georgia fake electors charged all filed for separate trials in Federal NDGeorgia Federal court. That’s their right to do under Georgia and Federal law. And it sure seems like the Fulton County prosecutors are willing to try everyone at once, and they’ve told the Georgia and Federal courts that they’re ready to do just that.

        • bmaz says:

          By what I can tell, the Fulton County prosecutors are lying and it is logistically impossible to try them all at once. The thought that they can is absurd. But they brought this on themselves for saying they could.

  4. Rugger_9 says:

    It continues a pattern of overreach by GOP state administrations (I know DA Willis is a Dem, but the environment is all ‘law-and-order’ about any protest). I’ll agree that RICO is a very large sledgehammer on a routine protest activity here. I would not be surprised to see the fine hand of Governor Kemp or his AG pushing things along.

    I mention the environment in red states, in that the government is dictating all sorts of things they say is part of what blue states want to do.

    Even this week we had the bozos trying to prevent women from crossing state borders, the OK schools chief go full Gilead, we still have the nonsense of the KS newspaper raid to shut down reporting on the sheriff and his friends, repeated attempts to shut down the Trump investigations by Congress (in addition to various state legislatures including GA) and a preemptive impeachment by Robin Vos in WI (that’s Betsy’s brother) to prevent the new Supreme Court majority from undoing the rank gerrymandering there.

    So, charging DFH protesters concerned with a superdupersecret police training zone is par for the course here.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      For some reason, this Cop City project in Atlanta has national juice and a national priority. From nominally Democratic city counselors to Republican state government, to reactionary billionaire patrons, big money and politics are behind it. Whatever the plans for it are, they are not limited to the namby pamby descriptions that have been put out.

      It’s an indication of how nefarious those plans are that civil protesters – engaging in largely First Amendment protected speech – are being threatened, under an overbroad conspiracy statute, with five or more years imprisonment for fighting it.

      • Just Some Guy says:

        The absolute batshit crazy thing about Cop City is that it’s not even necessary — there’s already a similar facility one county over, apparently. So every powerful person in GA wants to tear up a forest and plant false evidence on dead hippies just to have another big budget item in the Department of Redundancy Department that is local law enforcement.

        • pasha says:

          Recced for reference to Firesign Theatre’s “Department of Redundancy Department!”

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      • Harry Eagar says:

        Probably correct, but the disputants lost me early on when they started yapping about some sacred forest. It happens that as a 9-year-old Cub Scout in 1954, I toured that ‘forest.’ It was a farm. Pigs, cows, corn, pasture.

      • elcajon64 says:

        The project has national juice because it’ll be where every agency learns tactics, optimized by sharing each others’ learnings. Much how the BLM/Floyd protests were met with a similar police response no matter what city. That response is SHIELD training from DHS.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Doesn’t explain why this particular sight and why so many important interests have bet so heavily on it. For some reason, it reminds me of another police training sight, in Richmond, IN, during the Cold War, when KUBARK was a more common acronym.

        • elcajon64 says:

          That particular site is an unincorporated part of the county leased by the city of Atlanta. There is no mechanism for the residents to stop the lease, and the citizens of Atlanta don’t have any say in the matter because it is outside the city limits. They could vote to end the lease, but that’s about it.

          This lack of oversight is one reason the site was chosen. The outside money would allow the lease to continue whether the city of Atlanta has budget for it or not.

    • AG7 says:

      Robin Vos is not Betsy DeVos’ brother. Her maiden name is Prince. Her brother’s name is Eric Prince, the founder of Blackwater.

  5. Rugger_9 says:

    It’s nowhere near to a complete list, and we also have the expansion of the so-called ‘constitutional sheriff’ concept of nullification extended to the AL legislature blowing off a court order to do what they feel like anyhow. IOKIYAR.

  6. jdalessandro says:

    From the Georgia Code, Findings and Intent of General Assembly:

    “The General Assembly declares that the intent of this chapter is to impose sanctions against those who violate this chapter and to provide compensation to persons injured or aggrieved by such violations. It is not the intent of the General Assembly that isolated incidents of misdemeanor conduct or acts of civil disobedience be prosecuted under this chapter. It is the intent of the General Assembly, however, that this chapter apply to an interrelated pattern of criminal activity motivated by or the effect of which is pecuniary gain or economic or physical threat or injury. This chapter shall be liberally construed to effectuate the remedial purposes embodied in its operative provisions. ”

    Oh, as if an ambitious local prosecutor was ever going to abuse the law to punish acts of public protest. Ain’t gonna happen; this is America.
    It would be a wonderful irony if this awful law was struck down in the service of the US Sup Ct getting Trump off the hook. Well, maybe not wonderful.

    • timbozone says:

      There’s a difference between civil disobedience generally and conspiracy to stop the US Congress from conducting its business. There might be overlap somewhat but there are laws that state that Congress shall not be impeded in its official actions. It is highly doubtful that the Supreme Court would nullify such Federal laws, particularly when it comes to “civil disobedience” that isn’t about lawful protesting but more about trying to impede Congress by force.

    • sohelpmedog says:

      “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
      Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
      —Martin Niemöller

    • SamL_07SEP2023_0527h says:

      Willis could have charged every contributor to Trump’s legal defense fund or anyone who questioned the election. The whole Republican Party is the real target. The forest case and cite above from legislative history is explanatory about how misdemeanors should not be subject to RICO.

      The Meadows indictment is overreach. Pursuing legal remedies cannot be criminalized. An injunction to stop an illegal vote count?

      Let’s compare this to a mob underling sent out to get lunch while the planning meeting is going on. Then let’s compare it to the cook in Gotti’s Ravenna social club.

      Pure overreach but very little support for the little guy who gets charged with something and decides to plea rather than risk 5 years. Happens every day, Shame on Georgia for this law.

      Query legal acts taken in another jurisdiction, how are they encompassed in Georgia RICO? Or let’s say an Alabama resident wants to go gamble in Las Vegas instead of having an abortion or challenging a national election.

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      • Rayne says:

        The whole Republican Party is the real target.

        BWAHAHAHAHAHAH No. This is so fucking stupid on the face of it when Trump literally undermined GA’s GOP SOS’s job and integrity by telling the SOS “I just want to find, uh, 11,780 votes.” There were GOP voters who didn’t vote for Trump whose civil rights were violated by this bullshit attack by Trump on elected officials in his own party.

        A grand jury didn’t find the Meadows indictment to be overreach.

        We get it, you don’t like the GA state RICO act. You could have been more explicit about the reasons why GA state RICO act doesn’t fit the crimes but no, you had to attempt your own overreach.

        Welcome to emptywheel. But bring a better fucking game and a site standard compliant username.

        • bmaz says:

          Note that the GJ that hocked up the ridiculous Trump and friends ham sandwich also served up the ludicrous RICO indictment against 61 Cop City protesters. Not sure that GJ has any credibility at all as to “overreach”.

        • Rayne says:

          Let’s say for a moment RICO was replaced with “conspiracy.” Would you call it overreach then? To me this is fundamental problem with GA’s state RICO act — it’s a substitute for conspiracy.

          Meadows still can’t claim his role as White House employee was to aid and abet criminal acts including conspiracy to deny civil rights.

        • bmaz says:

          Depends on how it was worded. But I think the entire Fulton County indictment is bogus overreach irrespective of that wording distinction. So does Ken. I don’t know any practicing criminal attorneys (as opposed to gadabout law professors) that doesn’t think that.

        • Val Brumel says:

          A trenchant critique of RICO law seems to have been written some 20 years before RICO was even born, only that it was a critique of conspiracy law itself. In a concurring opinion in Krulewitsch v. U.S. (1949), Justice Jackson bemoaned that the history of the “elastic offense” of conspiracy “exemplifies the tendency of a principle to expand itself to the limit of its logic” – which seems exactly what happened with RICO. But it also suggests that RICO cannot really be questioned without more fundamentally questioning the conspiracy doctrine itself, of which it is an outgrowth Jackson warned against.

          In any case, it makes for fascinating reading.

      • SamForJustice says:

        Hope you like my new name it seems there are a few regular contributors, bmaz, Ed, Marcy, Rayne but I don’t know the cast of characters.

        I will save my A game for when I get paid.

        I did say why GRICO is overbroad and Willis would have liked to indict the entire Republican Party if she could have which will be her downfall. According to the comments I am not alone in saying it is overreach. Anyone who contributed money to Trump after the election could be indicted.

        I did some research and it seems that Willis went to a second GJ to actually indict after the Special Grand Jury. Meadow’s indictment is particularly weak based on the public information. I read the indictment summary pages 1-2 and he is charged with counts 1 and 2 RICO and getting the phone number for Raffensberger for Trump to make the phone call. I think it is a stretch for Meadows to be indicted on that. It’s not like he went out to the gas station to get gas for a Molotov Cocktail as opposed to filling up the car and then siphoning gas out. How was he supposed to know what Trumpy was going to say?

        Trump’s language is also to me only something that could fit under RICO with the inference it was illegal to FIND votes illegally. It’s ambiguous but probably enough for the DA to go to trial with. As the first Republican Presidential Candidate in about 40 years to lose Georgia, similar to Hillary losing Michigan, he had a basis to question the loss and how it happened. (I admit I have not listened to the recording of the call, but from what I read, Meadows didn’t say anything, maybe I am wrong on that, if so what did he say after Trump uttered his words?)

        Now what I have seen as the real issue is the false electors. But not too much written on that. I thought electors were pre selected before the election. If Trump tried to have that slate submitted would they be false electors or his challenged slate?

        I don’t buy for one moment that Meadow’s call was a conspiratorial act any more than the person indicted for getting the Cop City protestors sandwiches was guilty of anything. So there is no real limit to what Willis can charge someone with RICO for and that is exactly the problem because it reaches into thoughtcrime.

        Now, as to Willis’ case or theater. I guess lucky for us the writers and actors are on strike and we can all watch two mini seasons of the Georgia RICO case, first Chesbro and Powell then the main event. It was reported the prosecutor will call 150 people as witnesses. Let me tell you something not as a criminal attorney but someone who has had a civil trial or two. No one wants to hear 150 witnesses, not the Judge and especially not a jury. How much is this going to cost the People of Fulton County for this show, as we know money is no object to the State and luckily for us Trump to save his skin so we are in for the long haul. Court TV will be reborn.

        How will Willis manage to keep Republican voters off the jury? That is my question realistically otherwise there are going to be a number of acquittals.

        But no matter what lets say there are some convictions and a number of acquittals, maybe everyone will get something out of it entertainment wise.

        Legally lets face it the whole election system is broken and this case is another example of inJustice. A prosecutor with no restraint not answerable to anyone. which is typical of the law these days. The prosecutor is controlling things not the Judge by a long shot.

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        • bmaz says:

          Nobody ever wants 150 witnesses. This is just more Fulton County idiocy. And, yes, the false electors themselves and the attack on the election workers, maybe a couple of local election people are truly Fulton County concerns. The rest, not so much.

        • theartistvvv says:

          “I did some research and it seems that Willis went to a second GJ to actually indict after the Special Grand Jury.”

          Because that’s the GA system – the first “Special GJ” is basically “investigative”, the second votes on any indictments.

          That, by the way, is *my* “A game”, and I pay to play here, as might you (click on “support”, above).

        • fatvegan000 says:

          Isn’t making a claim that the case against Meadows is weak a little premature? I mean, what’s written in the indictment isn’t all the evidence Willis’ team has, right?

      • timbozone says:

        What? Raffensberger was a member of the Republican Party and still is. Willis didn’t target Raffensberger >as Raffensburger is not part of the conspiracy to violate Georgia’s voters rights to pick their own electors in a democratic election process<. What is overreach is the dangerous idiots and demagogues who believe that they are suddenly above the law because they can appeal to the mob, bringing violence upon the US Congress and thereby impede the lawful transfer of power under our Constitution. And you sound like one of dangerous idiots or appear to be an apologist for same.

  7. Ravenous hoarde says:

    Listened to an NPR special years ago that was very sympathetic to the teachers. Made GA RICO seem incredibly monstrous and overreaching.

    I personally hope Trump et al get convicted and aren’t able to appeal under it. Only in a hypocritical manner. Not because it makes sense.

    I suppose I have to take comfort that rich powerful conservatives can help improve jail conditions and shine a light on bad law when it’s their turn for first hand experience lol.

  8. Alda Earnest Goodpeople says:

    If you think RICO was abused in these cases, read up on Jeffrey Epstein’s financier Leon Black, who tried to use RICO to sue counsel, counsel’s child sex trafficking victim, Black’s business partner, and/or others, in Black v. Ganieva, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 21-cv-08824. Now he’s suing for malicious prosecution, after another child sex trafficking victim with Down Syndrome and autism came forward, 23-CV-6418 (JGLC), and specified she was trafficked by Epstein to Leon Black, and where she alleges Black raped and sodomized her with objects to the point of causing her to bleed. And so Black thinks being sued for seemingly malicious conduct is malicious? That’s rich.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, thanks for the help, I understand RICO just fine. Also, I understand the difference between civil and criminal RICO, which you clearly do not.

      • Alda Earnest Goodpeople says:

        What’s not to love about your warm contributions to regular Empty Wheel readers and your best practices for reader retention, hilarious Bmaz!

        Actually I did know there was both a criminal and civil RICO, because just like you I studied the law, so you are dead wrong in your assumption there — just as you were when I said they’d charge Trump with RICO, and you said it would never happen, and you crapped all over me more than once for continuously telling you it was coming, and yet here we are, because you’re a stable genius! To correct your false assumption, you were harping about RICO abuse, and so I joined you in harping about a different type of RICO abuse, to further the conversation, and it looks like I did, bully for me!

        P.S. Your idol Jimmy Buffet was also named in the black book of Jeffrey Epstein, on page 13. Epstein had both his address and his phone number and surely that’s because they weren’t “friends”, didn’t call one another, and didn’t visit one another.

        I think we both/all wish I would just stick to reading Marcy and Ed, instead of floating down to the comment section, which sometimes has some great exchanges of ideas and information, but other times, like many comment sections across the internet, it is where the sadists lie in wait for their next victim, like crack addicts who just can’t stop themselves from crapping on others to get their next fix. My bad, I should have known better that to try and contribute, and I will try my best not to wander down here, but that won’t stop me from reading Marcy and Ed, gold.

        Resume shining like you do Bmaz, because just like Trump, you are a winner, and Empty Wheel is so lucky to have you as a legal expert and a regular contributor.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, if you “did” understand the difference between civil and criminal, your comment certainly did not evince that. And if you don’t like what I have to say, PLEASE scrol along. As to the the rest, please feel to fuck off.

          And NOTHIG here has to do with Epstein and Buffet. What garbage, try to do better.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The attempt at sarcasm wasn’t worth popping the corn. And for someone who says they have a legal background, the conclusions you draw from scant evidence are jejune.

        • Rayne says:

          First, the comment above doesn’t address the topic of this post or an issue; it instead attacks a contributor/moderator as well as adding off-topic content which belongs in a different thread. This is unacceptable.

          Second, replies which pile on and bolster this behavior will be moderated.

          If readers don’t like the way comments are moderated or don’t like certain comments, readers are under no obligation to leave their takes here. Simply move on.

        • bmaz says:

          Need to add one thing, and then I’m done with this. The commenter is misrepresenting how and why I said there would be no RICO. I said that as to the Feds, and obviously they have been careful in the structure of their indictments and did not dive into RICO.

          Later, it was pretty clear Fulton County was going to do that from very early on. They were even seeding it with reporters, albeit it anonymously. That, and the sheer noisiness of the Fulton County Attorney’s Office, is exactly why I have been carping about their “investigation” and indictment from the start.

  9. bloopie2 says:

    It strikes me that there are likely many laws on the books in a lot of places (Georgia included but not alone) that can be enforced both for good (as one person sees it) and for bad (as that same one person sees it). Are we saying that if a law is so broadly written that it can be enforced harshly against decent teachers and righteous protesters, then we should throw it out entirely – even if it is usable against MAGA election overthrowers (we don’t like them)? If so, then how does one write a law that’s so narrowly tailored it is enforceable against only Bad folks who want to overthrow an election and not against Good folks?

    Prosecutorial discretion seems to be involved here. Hasn’t there always been prosecutorial discretion? Won’t there always be prosecutorial discretion? What’s to be done about that?

    Perhaps an appropriate question here is, what other existing Georgia statutes could have been used against the MAGA folks, instead of this RICO law? I haven’t seen that discussion, although admittedly I haven’t searched for it online; y’all are welcome to yell at me for not doing that prior to commenting.

    • bmaz says:

      Um, all of them, and they are specified in the indictment. All could have been prosecuted without the RICO nonsense. Perhaps the appropriate question is, do you think an oppressive and over broad law is just fine and dandy as long as it gets you to Trump, damn the teachers and protestors?

      • bloopie2 says:

        Ahh, I see yer right as to the other statutes; that’s what I get for talking without thinking it through, apologies. As for part 2, I don’t think the existing statute is just fine and dandy, but very little in life is 100% so. I do think that there are many fine and dandy laws that can be abused, though, so I don’t know what is the cure. If I find it I’ll sell it to everyone and retire!

        • SamForJustice says:

          OK at the risk of not being able to solve all the world’s problems I am going to suggest one small remedy, not for the Trump case but others.

          End Prosecutorial Immunity.

        • timbozone says:

          I’m on board with that in theory. The question is how broadly do you rein in the immunity basically. You can’t have the court system bogged down with counter civil suits every time a prosecutor starts pushing a grand jury to start nosing around.

        • SamForJustice says:

          What a prosecutor says in court after an honest indictment is protected under other rules. When the Prosecutor runs the investigation, gives out immunity to manufacture testimony, lies or misrepresents things to a grand jury No.

    • bmaz says:

      It was formally announced by Chris Carr yesterday, and the indictment officially filed on August 29, which is far short of “a month ago”.

      • Just Some Guy says:

        This is what I was referencing, the original arrests by DeKalb County, which were on May 31st:

        It also appears that yesterday’s indictments filed by Georgia’s AG were the cause of some concern to DeKalb’s DA:

        “The most recent indictment was filed by the Georgia attorney general’s office in Fulton county last Tuesday, the AJC reported, and follows months of often violent protests at the site and in downtown Atlanta.

        “In June, Sherry Boston, district attorney for DeKalb county, in which Cop City is located, announced she was withdrawing from criminal cases tied to protests, citing differences with Georgia’s Republican attorney general, Chris Carr, over how they were being handled.

        “At that stage, more than 40 people had been charged with domestic terrorism following incidents in which fireworks and rocks were thrown at police. Police vehicles and construction equipment were also vandalized.

        “‘It is clear to both myself and to the attorney general that we have fundamentally different prosecution philosophies,’ Boston said. The move handed Carr’s office sole responsibility for charging and prosecuting cases.”

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, exactly. But, apparently, any common local attorney can usurp the power blithely of the whole state. Which is bad, but even the AG Carr can bogusly use it when he wants to.

        • timbozone says:

          It’ll be interesting if any defendants in this case, if it gets that far, decide to call the DA from De Kalb as a witness to police or state abuse of prosecutorial power. Seems like “a difference of opinion as to legal application” could cover a bit of ground. Does prosecutorial immunity extend so far that defendants and the court(s) of jurisdiction do not have an ability to hear, on the record, how things got decided when the state decides to prosecute and the local DA has declined?

  10. Patrick Carty says:

    But what about the false electors scheme that was clearly planned ahead of time and executed as planned? That is clearly an organized entity that knew Trump lost and knew the results were certified and regardless put in place a corrupt slate of alternate (forged) cadre of people ready to seize the count, had only Mike Pence lit the fuse. That is RICO, and that was my Georgia vote they criminally conspired to nullify. As for Coffee County, sure maybe not an organized criminal enterprise but more of an opportunistic attempt to somehow read computer code that said “Trump Bad”, and that might be attempted trespassing.

    • wasD4v1d says:

      Willis has stated for the record she is going after an organization, not looking to try nineteen individuals piecemeal. It’s a wild move, but her opponent is feral and has been immune to calculated legal maneuvers his entire life.

      The chance that this goes from circus to fustercluck is an enormous risk, though. I don’t think you’ll find this filed under ‘best practices.’

      • bmaz says:

        No, Willis never ever said it was absolutely not a state in its is the perfect example.local only, because Fulton County. About and if is totally RICO, then why are pushing hard in individual state jurisdictions.

        • wasD4v1d says:

          I see and accept your point. And the overreach around cop city – would this make Georgia definitionally a police state? – completely supports your perspective. My argument is not in support of RICO but argues that seeing the conspiracy as ‘an organization’ is clarifying in and of itself. But a prosecutorial circus would be anything but clarifying – it will make a mess of everything. One hopes the higher courts will start breaking this apart.

  11. TimothyB says:

    Thanks for this useful post, bmaz.

    Here’s another popehat, his essay on the Georgia RICO statute as applied to Trump:

    Many of the sames themes as in this discussion, but also many points not raised here.

    One could object to these RICO statutes because of substantive scope troubles: designed for mob; application to political organizations out of (desirable) scope. Or because of process issues: lets DA impose enormous defense costs on heterogeneous groups of defendants, possibly too great a burden especially for impecunious defendants.

  12. velcroman says:

    Apologies if this is not sufficiently related to the OP.

    I just read this in the Washington Post bout the GA case, and was curious about part of it.

    “McAfee questioned prosecutors on what might happen if a federal appeals court overturned a lower court’s decision to keep Meadows and others in state court.
    “Where does that leave us? In the middle of a jury trial with double jeopardy attached? Have you now risked your entire prosecution because this case has now been removed in federal court, and we’ve sworn in a jury and been presenting evidence against all these other co-defendants?””

    If Meadows is initially tried with everyone else, and he gets removed to federal court, does that really kill the case for everyone else due to double jeopardy?

    Can someone please explain this?

    Also, it implies elsewhere that Trump would be required to sit in the courtroom for the whole trial.
    “Such a timeline would force Trump to spend a third of a year sitting in an Atlanta courtroom with his co-defendants”

    Is that true? He has the right to be present, but is it a requirement?

    Finally, apologies if this has been asked and answered elsewhere, but are there any formatting tools available for posts?

    [Moderator’s note: For security reasons HTML formatting tags are reduced to [em], [strong], [blockquote], and [a href] with active links being held in auto-moderation in most cases to prevent phishing attacks. Tags use right and left carets instead of brackets; because carets are privileged they can’t be used in an example here. You can test your tags at W3C School’s HTML “Try it Yourself” link: |~Rayne]

    • timbozone says:

      Those without standing to be removed to Federal court trial will continue in the Georgia court system as normal. Only Meadow’s trial would be finished up in Federal court. Everyone else would still be tried in state court. IANAL. If one or more of the other defendants did manage to move their trial(s) to Federal court in this case, those might or might not be combined with Meadow’s imagined Federal trial.

  13. Martin Lydick says:

    Re: RICO, complications and potential abuses.

    Seems to me that the GA action was a reach too far, for whatever reason(s.)
    It’s always appeared to me that there was enough evidence to bring separate actions against each individual in turn and let it play out in manageable bite size pieces, with commensurate penalties meted out assuming conviction.
    If any one individual truly had anything worth trading for leniency it would come out in timely fashion and available for use against bigger fish.

  14. Bay State Librul says:

    I think BMAZ is suggesting that Fanni is flying too close to the sun.
    On the other hand, she tells Jim Jordan to shove his requests and meddling up his arse.
    Jimbo, Read “RICO State-by State” for $249.
    Comic relief and good move by Fanni

    • Campion says:

      I too found the DA’s response to GYMBO compelling–glad to see her stand up to the bully he is. But yes as far as overreach, I get it and understand the persuasive argument about abuse of such a law as RICO–esp the Georgia version. But this is the case. This. So is there no one here who has an inkling by now that these guys really are mobsters and that RICO is the only way to have a chance in hell of getting to the Don (at least having a serious venue for exposing his network and the sheer breadth of its criminality–esp. given the sycophantic state of the GOP and of the Judiciary and given Trump’s quixotic ability to belittle and divide discrete charges into thin air and thereby chuck them decisively–even when found guilty–into the never never garbage land of faux news. That only by demonstrating the intra-relating structure of the enigma itself can one hope to have a chance to unravel the labyrinthine sections and expose the denizens of the conspiracy’s blind alleyways. Is there no doubting Thomas here with even a faint surmise that if the measured Federal path had prevailed in Georgia too–with tidy, clear, charges without overreach that Trump might have an even greater shot at prevailing? Actually win the white house and pardon himself and all the others for the political crimes he has been burdened with and go bloody free? Is there no sense that this goat in the yard, this RICO, might have some practical use along our tortuous road to justice?

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      • bmaz says:

        So, you are saying that no matter whether it is abusive or not, it is worth it to get everybody in the US under the jurisdiction of one county, out of 159, in Georgia?

    • timbozone says:

      It’s spelled “Fani”, not “Fanni”. It is also more properly pronounced “fah-ni”. Please take note.

  15. Purple Martin says:

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a short item this morning…

    …on Fani Willis’s reply, as Fulton County DA, to Jim Jordan’s demand, as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, that she send him, well, absolutely everything than can possibly have some vague relationship to her investigation and RICO indictment of the Trump conspiracy.

    Regardless of opinions about rationale and legal judgement around the indictment, the letter is a fine example of not suffering fools gladly:

    It’s nine pages are organized per the following headings:

    (1) Your Attempt to Interfere with and Obstruction This Offices Prosecution of State Criminal Cases is Unconstitutional.
    a. Your letter offends principles of state sovereignty.
    b. Your letter transgresses separation of powers principles.
    c. Your letter improperly interferes with the administration of criminal justice.
    d. Your letter burdens the deliberate process privilege.

    (2) My voluntary responses to portions of your letter are below.
    a. Your notion that different standards of justice should apply to a select group of people is offensive.
    b. Defendant Trump’s status as a political candidate cannot make him legally immune from criminal prosecution.
    c. An explanation of the basic obligations of a prosecutor is below.
    d. Your questioning of the overt and predicate acts listed in the indictment is misinformed.
    e. Your questioning of the length of the investigation and timing of the indictment in unfounded.
    f. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has used federal grant funding for its intended purposes.
    g. Your allegations that I have used this prosecution for political benefit are unfounded.
    h. Below are Suggestions for Productive Activity by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.
    i. The safety of persons serving in the criminal justice system should be a primary concern of yours.


    • Purple Martin says:

      Thought I made it through a comment without a typo. But either “Its nine pages are organized per…” or “It’s nine pages, organized per….” Take your pick. Sighhh.

    • bmaz says:

      Agreed. As pretty much everybody here knows, I am not fond of the indictment, but it is entirely appropriate to tell Jordan to pound sand.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Willis could have used an editor – “deliberative” not “deliberate” process privilege – but otherwise it was a nice smackdown over Jordan’s obvious and partisan overreach.

        He’s an easy target. But Willis trolled him nicely about the price he would have to pay for the primer on state RICO laws, owing to his not being a member of a state bar.

  16. Karen C says:

    Just a gut reaction: Using RICO for prosecution of Trump et al in GA could be valid in one sense. The head conspirator used the big lie not only to try to stay in power, but also to commit fraud and money laundering. My two cents.

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    • bmaz says:

      And, yet, the feds never considered it and I doubt any other state would either. But after Fulton County’s nonsense, it will likely spread like dangerous wildfire. My two cents.

      • timbozone says:

        Do we know that the Feds never seriously considered RICO charges? The various conspiracies by the Trump gang are still being investigated; very likely we’re going to see more charged indictments before this is all through.

  17. Narog907 says:

    “I think it made the Fulton County indictment weaker if cases go to trial. It is complex and confusing. And a jury may well find it so. Or not. We’ll see.”

    I don’t know about Fulton County, but I do know about federal jurors and if you want to charge conspiracy or RICO, they want to see one of two things: a dead body or a very large brick of white powder. Complex and confusing is very very easy for defense lawyers to turn into reasonable doubt.

    • timbozone says:

      Georgia jurors appear to be able to convicted on RICO charges without those things. Have you looked at the past convictions in the teachers scandal for instance? Plenty of RICO charges resulted in convictions.

      • timbozone says:

        Sigh. “convinced”, not “convicted” in the first sentence. (Still no edit mechanism available…anyone know/if when it’ll be returning to for us non-administrators?)

        • bmaz says:

          People really should stop whining about the “edit button”. It will return when it returns. We have security concerns that are far more important.

    • Robot-seventeen says:

      Good one. Comment by Ty Cobb agreeing with the author. My question would be: If the RICO vessel is tossed can they bring charges separately on the predicate acts?

      • bmaz says:

        Absolutely. Note that the general statute of limitation in Georgia is only four years, but they are currently well within that.

        • Robot-seventeen says:

          So I don’t know why she would, but if that’s the case would it make sense in some obscure Georgia RICO sort of way to initially charge under RICO? Gather the two Grand Juries together, sort everything out to charge all of them under RICO, and then split them up into four conspiracies instead and lose RICO? By the time it’s all said and done there are probably only going to be 8 going to trial (or some such). I guess why I’m asking is I wonder if there’s some efficiencies to be gained. My business partner was defense counsel in 67 person conspiracy trial and said the judge rolled right through no problem.

        • bmaz says:

          No, RICO, even the state level one in GA, was gratuitous and unnecessary. You can’t get the grand juries together, as the special purpose one has no power to indict, it is only investigative. Yes there are efficiencies to be had, but Fulton County does not seem interested in them.

          No way 67 people were actually tried in a jury trial at the same time, that did not happen, did it?? My biggest case was 200 or so, but it was manageable because it was broken up into different indictments. I was copied on all pleadings and supplied with discovery on everything. It was in the terabytes, but they identified the portions pertinent to my client, so was manageable.

        • Robot-seventeen says:

          Not certain but I would imagine they were broken up. I wasn’t working with him then but when I was, we did quite a few federal and state prosecutions on the west coast (I did tech support type of work not strictly legal).

    • SteveBev says:

      Section VII

      39 individuals recommended for charges in respect of “the national efforts to overturn the 2020 elections, focused on” 5 states plus DC

      • SteveBev says:

        The 39:
        Rudy Giuliani
        John Eastman
        Kenneth Chesebro
        Donald Trump
        Cleta Mitchell
        Jenna Ellis
        Mark Meadows
        David Shafer
        Ray Smith
        Lin Wood
        Lindsey Graham
        Sidney Powell
        Robert Cheeley
        Michael Flynn
        William Ligon
        David Perdue
        Kelly Loeffler
        Cathleen Latham
        Misty Hampton
        Scott Hall
        Boris Epshteyn
        Jeff Clark
        Kurt Hilbert
        Steven Lee
        Trevian Kutti
        Harrison Floyd
        Alex Kaufman
        Jacki Pick
        Joseph Brannan
        Vikki Consiglio
        Carolyn Fisher
        Burt Jones
        Gloria Godwin
        Mark Hennessy
        Mark Amick
        John Downey
        Brad Carver
        Shawn Still
        C. B. Yadav

        21 were not charged
        Mike Roman is the one not named in the 39 but who was among the 19 indicted

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