• Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

Steve Jones: Who is the judge who’ll decide whether to move Fulton County defendants’ cases to federal court?

Steve Jones: Who is the judge who'll decide whether to move Fulton County defendants' cases to federal court?


Federal district Judge Steve Jones of the Northern District of Georgia will hear requests from three of the 19 defendants hoping to move their Georgia election subversion cases out of state court.

The group, which includes former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is trying to get the case dismissed under federal law – a determination that may impact Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ case against former President Donald Trump and others. Meadows and others will present evidence about whether to move the case, while the judge has allowed the state court case to proceed in the meantime.

Jones, a Barack Obama appointee, was confirmed by the US Senate in 2011 by a 90-0 vote. A former Superior Court judge, he grew up in Athens, Georgia, and graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1987.

So far, Jones has shown that he would like to avoid a circus while not giving short shrift to Meadows’ arguments, said Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. The orders Jones has already issued have hewed tightly to the relevant statutes and case law, and he has moved the proceedings along very efficiently.

Jones is “by the book, which includes quickly and quietly,” Vladeck said.

Jones has overseen high-profile cases before.

In July, he declined to toss three lawsuits claiming that Georgia’s congressional and legislative districts were drawn in a way that discriminates against Black voters. He slated a trial on the matter for September.

In 2020, Jones blocked the state’s six-week abortion ban, which later took effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In 2019, he rejected an attempt by a voting rights group to restore to the rolls 98,000 Georgia voters who had been removed after being classified as “inactive” after a new state law took effect.

In that case, Jones found that the 11th Amendment of the Constitution and the principles of sovereign immunity “do not permit a federal court to enjoin a state (or its officers) to follow a federal court’s interpretation of the State of Georgia’s laws.” Jones also determined that the group, Fair Fight Action, failed to show that its claim had a substantial likelihood of success.

Next, Jones will weigh movement in the case in which Trump is accused of being the head of a “criminal enterprise” that was part of a broad conspiracy to overturn his electoral defeat in Georgia. Trump, who faces 13 charges, is also expected to try to move the case to federal court, according to multiple sources familiar with his legal team’s thinking.

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