United States District Court Judge Steven C. Jones has issued a ruling denying the bid of Mark Meadows, former Chief of Staff for Donald Trump, to remove the criminal case against him brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis alleging violation of Georgia’s RICO statute in relation to the 2020 presidential election.
As RedState reported, Meadows filed a Notice of Removal of the case seeking to have it moved to federal court on the basis that any actions he is alleged to have taken in the indictment were performed in the course of his federal employment and, therefore, do not fall within the state court’s jurisdiction. In the Notice, Meadows asserted:
Defendant Mark R. Meadows, former Chief of Staff to the President of the United States, removes this proceeding from the Fulton County Superior Court (Case No. 23SC188947, filed August 14, 2023), insofar as it charges Mr. Meadows in two counts (Counts 1 and 28) of a 41-count indictment, to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1442 & 1455.
Mr. Meadows has the right to remove this matter. The conduct giving rise to the charges in the indictment all occurred during his tenure and as part of his service as Chief of Staff. In these circumstances, federal law provides for prompt removal of a “criminal prosecution . . . commenced in a State court . . . against or directed to” a federal official, “in an official or individual capacity, for or relating to any act under color of [his] office.” 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1). The removal statute “protect[s] the Federal Government from the interference with its operations that would ensue were a State able, for example, to arrest and bring to trial in a State court for an alleged offense against the law of the State, officers and agents of the Federal Government acting within the scope of their authority.”
Willis’ office opposed the removal, asserting that actions taken by Meadows in relation to the election were (or should be) outside the purview of his federal employment.
Meadows had previously lost a motion to stay his arrest in the Georgia proceedings pending a ruling on the removal.
A hearing was held regarding the removal issue before Judge Jones on August 28, during which time Meadows testified for several hours.
On Friday, Judge Jones issued his ruling denying the removal and remanding the case to the state court.
U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones issued the ruling after holding a hearing on the matter in Atlanta federal court last week that included five hours of testimony from Meadows, who along with former President Donald Trump was charged last month in Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ sweeping election interference case.
“The Court concludes that Meadows has not shown that the actions that triggered the State’s prosecution related to his federal office,” Jones wrote, adding “Meadows’s alleged association with post-election activities was not related to his role as White House Chief of Staff or his executive branch authority.”
As we reported on Thursday, former President Trump filed a notice with the Fulton County court indicating that he may seek to remove the case against him. I speculated at the time that he may be waiting to see how the court ruled in Meadows’ case before crafting his own bid for removal. At a minimum, Judge Jones’ ruling as to Meadows may prove instructive. The full 49-page Order can be viewed below.
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