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Judge Scott McAfee, appointed to lead Trump’s case in Georgia, will be tried like no other

One of Fulton County’s newest judges will oversee the case against former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants, according to the case’s roll.

Supreme Court Justice Scott McAfee, who was appointed to the bench in February, was appointed to preside over the blockbuster case announced late Monday after a grand jury in Fulton County returned a 41-count charge. Trump and the other defendants face charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO.

Judge Scott McAfee
Judge Scott McAfee

Fulton County, Georgia

RICO cases, involving multiple defendants and a web of allegations of organized or related criminal activity, are notoriously complex and resource-intensive—a challenge for both the judge and the attorneys involved. Willis’ office is currently pursuing another RICO case rapper Young Thug and several others, the jury selection alone has been going on for months. Experts have speculated it could become the longest trial in Georgia history.

But at a press conference Monday night, Willis indicated her office would follow a much faster schedule in the Trump case, seeking a trial “within six months.”

CBS News legal assistant Jessica Levinson says this case could make Judge McAfee one of the most recognizable faces in the country as Georgia allows cameras in the courtroom. As the presiding judge of a case involving a former president challenging multiple felony charges, the judge will face some unique challenges.

“No judge in the world has had this case before. You could have a judge with 50 years of experience and it would still be a new and unique case,” Levinson said.

Levinson believes McAfee’s past of working at the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office could help.

‘He knows how the provincial prosecutor’s office functions. That will help him. He knows how criminal processes work from the side of the lawyer and that will help him.’

While still in his first year as a judge, this isn’t the first time McAfee has tried a case involving a politically sensitive defendant. According to court documents, Judge McAfee fined pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood $5,000 in June for violating a court order. McAfee ruled that Wood had explicitly violated a court order barring Wood from making public, derogatory statements about the plaintiffs in a civil suit unrelated to Wood’s work with the former president.

Prior to his judicial appointment, McAfee was Georgia’s Inspector General, charged with investigating waste, fraud, abuse and corruption in the executive branch. Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who selected him for the job in March 2021, called McAfee a “strong addition to my administration” because of his past experience as a “tough prosecutor.”

Prior to his time in the Inspector General’s office, McAfee served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. He also served as a senior assistant district attorney in Fulton County and was an assistant district attorney in Barrow County.

In the Fulton County District Attorney’s office, McAfee handled hundreds of crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder. His LinkedIn profile says he has worked on several probes in the big business department.

In a statement issued after his appointment to the bank in December 2022, McAfee pledged to “do my homework”.

“Lawyers can expect me to have read their pleas and be ready to dive in,” he said.

A longtime resident of the state, McAfee graduated with a degree in music from Emory University and received his law degree from the University of Georgia. McAfee’s biography on the IG’s website also states that he previously served for two Georgia Supreme Court justices.

His campaign website says McAfee will be reelected in 2024.

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