Georgia State Representative Tanya F. Miller, D-Atlanta, speaks during a Judiciary Committee hearing inside the State Capitol on Monday, February 13, 2023. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

This Wednesday, many of the co-defendants currently embroiled in a sweeping indictment under the Georgia RICO Statute will enter their pleas. Each defendant will be ushered into the Fulton County Courthouse in a 15-minute-increment procession until 3:15 p.m., with a one-hour lunch break at noon.

Sidney Powell, Former campaign lawyer Ray Stallings Smith III, and publicist Trevian Kutti each have entered their pleas of not guilty in the case brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee decided to allow a livestream of the court proceedings beginning this week. 

“I agree with Judge McAfee’s decision,” said Georgia State Rep. Tanya R. Miller Esq. “Courtrooms in Fulton County are where the people’s business is handled. We have open courtrooms as a measure of accountability for what occurs in our criminal justice system. In a courtroom where truth should reign supreme, there is no good reason to keep the people in the dark. Plus, a televised trial leaves no doubt about facts and the evidence in this case. Facts and truth are things we sorely need at this critical time in our nation’s history. We should not shrink away from that.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis laid out the first details of her sprawling anti-racketeering case against former President Donald Trump, his White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and 17 other co-defendants at a federal court hearing on August 28, 2023. (Photos: Reuters, AP)

Former President Donald J. Trump entered his plea of not guilty last week and his waiver to not appear in court was granted. In an email to his supporters, Trump expressed his displeasure at the idea of this trial in Georgia being televised, despite Trump’s overarching desire to dominate headlines and television screens. 

“Why would I fly down to Atlanta just to hear over a dozen FALSE CHARGES brought against me on live TV?,” Trump said. “A judge ruled that all of my court proceedings in Atlanta will be TELEVISED for the entire country to watch. The Communist Democrats would love nothing more than for me to be stuck in court in a televised spectacle as a way to keep me off the campaign trail. But I refuse to play into the Left’s hands. That’s why I have waived my in-person formal arraignment and simply pleaded ‘NOT GUILTY’ to the indictment in the Georgia witch hunt.”

Trump is facing thirteen felony charges in Fulton County. Willis’s investigation stems from the January 2, 2021 call Trump had with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he stressed the need to “find 11,780 votes.” Additionally, Trump has requested his case be severed from Ken Chesebro who has requested his trial to begin October 23rd. Trump attorneys claim the speedy trial Chesebro requested “would violate President Trump’s federal and state constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process of law.”

Georgia State Representative Tanya F. Miller, D-Atlanta, speaks from the well inside the Georgia House Chamber on Monday, March 20, 2023. Miller spoke out against legislation that would establish mandatory minimum sentences for persons found guilty of committing gang-related crimes in Georgia. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows requested to move his case from state court to federal court in the hopes of a wider, more sympathetic jury pool. Plus, if Meadows were to be successful, it would be possible for Trump and the remainder of the co-defendants to get their cases moved to federal court. During court proceedings on August 29th, Meadows admitted he did the work that Trump did not. Whether or not Meadows violated the Hatch Act would be questioned.

Meadows, like Trump, would love the idea of no cameras, laptops, phones or recordings would not be permissible in federal court. However, State Rep. Miller believes Meadows’s case should be tried in Fulton County Superior Court because the alleged crimes took place in Fulton County.

“I can certainly understand the idea behind Meadows’s desire to move his case from Fulton County to federal court,” said Miller. “No cameras, an arguably more favorable venue for him with jurors being drawn from counties other than Fulton County—northern suburbs that may be more sympathetic to him due to their political leanings. But Meadows chose Fulton County as the forum to allegedly conspire to disenfranchise voters. Fulton County is where election workers were harassed and defamed all in the name of giving the president a win he did not earn. 

The people of Fulton County brought this case, through their duly elected District Attorney and this is the forum he and his co-conspirators should answer for their alleged crimes. I trust the citizens of Fulton County to do what they do day in and day out—administer justice as jurors sworn to uphold the law. It’s a shame he does not. The argument that he was engaging in legitimate duties as a federal employee, arguably doesn’t pass the smell test, but it is one he can make right here in Fulton County.”

Chesebro and Powell have requested speedy trials in hopes of catching Willis unprepared. However, State Rep. Miller, who was once a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York to a supervisory prosecutor in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, believes Willis when she says she’s ready to go to trial. Wills took more than two years before she handed down the indictment. 

“I guarantee you that when the office brought this indictment, they did so expecting the contingency that each and every one of the 19 defendants charged could request a speedy trial,” said Miller. “DA Willis is trained to be ready for this contingency and I expect that she is.”

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...