On Wednesday, a judge in Fulton County, Ga., ruled that the chair of the state’s Republican Party, a key figure in the 2020 scheme to have fake Electoral College voters give Georgia’s votes to Donald Trump rather than Joe Biden, can’t be represented by lawyers repping 10 of the other 15 fake electors.
In his ruling, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said the GOP chair, David Shafer, engaged in “substantively” different behavior from other fake electors targeted in Fulton’s criminal probe of Trump’s effort to subvert Georgia’s 2020 election results.
The ruling came after Fulton prosecutors sought to prohibit 11 fake electors (including Shafer) from sharing legal representation, citing potential conflicts of interest.
McBurney said that would be premature — with one notable exception.
“The Court finds that the allegations of current or near-term potential conflict that the District Attorney has iterated in the redacted portions of her pleading are waivable and have been effectively waived — in most instances,” he wrote.
“The exception is David Shafer.”
The judge said details about Shafer’s central role set him apart from other fake electors.
“Given the information before the Court about his role in establishing and convening the slate of alternate electors, his communications with other key players in the District Attorney’s investigation, and his role in other post-election efforts to call into question the validity of the official vote count in Georgia,” McBurney wrote, “the Court finds that he is substantively differently situated from the other ten clients jointly represented by [two defense attorneys].” (The attorneys, Holly Pierson and Kimberly Debrow, said in a statement that they disagree with the ruling.)
The judge continued with a rather scathing reading of Shafer’s conduct:
His signed waiver may be identical, but his situation is not. He is not just another alternate elector; his lawyers’ repeated incantation of the “lawfulness” of the 2020 alternate electoral scheme and invocation of a separate electoral process from 60 years ago and 4,500 miles away do not apply to the additional post-election actions in which Shafer engaged that distinguish him from the ten individuals with whom he shares counsel. His fate with the special purpose grand jury (and beyond) is not tethered to the other ten electors in the same manner in which those ten find themselves connected.
The ruling seems like it could be bad news for Shafer.
Remember that efforts to subvert Georgia’s 2020 election results are being investigated as a potential violation of Georgia’s racketeering law. That’s noteworthy here because Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ office has deployed this exact strategy — of trying to divvy up legal representation — in a separate racketeering case: the high-profile case against rapper Young Thug (real name Jeffery Williams) and members of his alleged gang, Young Slime Life.
In both instances — Williams’ case and Shafer’s election-related case — preventing their lawyers from also representing their perceived underlings — could be seen as a way to encourage those underlings to flip on their bosses.