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Georgia Gop Chairman May Not Share a Lawyer With Other “Alternative Electors,” According to the Judge
David Shafer, the chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, may not share an attorney with the other 10 GOP activists who acted as fictitious electors on behalf of Donald Trump’s campaign, the judge presiding over an Atlanta-area grand jury investigation into Trump’s attempt to rig the 2020 election ruled on Wednesday.
Although the criminal exposure for those “alternative electors” may be modest and generally comparable, Judge Robert McBurney stated that Shafer was in a separate category due to his crucial position as the effort’s leader. Shafer cannot share attorneys with his 10 coworkers, McBurney decided.
In a seven-page opinion, McBurney stated, “The Court finds that he is substantively differently situated 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 question the legitimacy of the official vote count in Georgia.
The legal agreement that 11 of Georgia’s 16 pro-Trump “alternative” electors struck in the midst of the Fulton County special grand jury investigation is now invalidated by McBurney’s decision. They all hired Kimberly Burroughs Debrow and Holly Pierson as their attorneys.
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District Attorney Fani Willis, who had requested McBurney to bar Burroughs and Pierson from standing in for the 11 GOP electors, gains some ground as a result of the decision (five other pro-Trump alternate electors have separate attorneys). Willis said that if any of the GOP contingent electors were charged with a crime and some of them were summoned to testify against one another, there would be a conflict due to the combined representation of so many of them.
The contingent electors had not been accused of any wrongdoing and had little criminal exposure as a result of their involvement in the 2020 election campaign, according to Pierson and Debrow. In any case, they had all knowingly waived any concerns about a conflict of interest in order to share the two attorneys.
According to what is now known, McBurney concurred that any prospective criminal accusations against the group were “distant and hypothetical.” He pointed out that the special grand jury would not indict anyone after its conclusion; rather, it would just give a list of recommendations to Willis, putting the GOP alternate electors even further away from any potential conflict.
Shafer, though, is “the exception,” he claimed. McBurney decided that the other 10 electors “are not attached to his fate with the special purpose grand jury (and beyond) in the same manner that those ten find themselves connected.” It is impractical and even unethical for Pierson and Debrow to defend all eleven of them at once because of the disparity in their exposure to the District Attorney’s inquiry.
The two lawyers might choose to defend Shafer or the other ten contingent electors, not all 11, according to McBurney’s ruling, which he indicated would be up to them and their clients. In a statement, DeBrow and Pierson expressed their disagreement with McBurney’s decision and thought they should be allowed to continue representing all 11.
“Mr. Shafer had no legally significant “communications with other major players in the District Attorney’s investigation,” the attorneys claimed, nor did he choose the replacement electors. The constitutionally protected act of petitioning the government through the proper judicial process to contest the election, a lawsuit in which the nominee electors themselves were the real parties in interest, was his only “role in other post-election efforts to call into question the validity of the official vote count in Georgia.”