A.M. ATL: What’s next for Fani Willis, Fulton’s Trump case

Plus: General Assembly’s final stretch, NCAA Tournament brackets
District Attorney Fani Willis speaks to reporters after filling out paperwork during the qualifying period Wednesday at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, March 6, 2024. (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer/AJC

District Attorney Fani Willis speaks to reporters after filling out paperwork during the qualifying period Wednesday at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta, March 6, 2024. (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Morning, y’all! Welcome back. Temperatures in the 40s this morning. Expect highs approaching 60 later on.

Today’s newsletter includes a look at what’s next for Fani Willis and Fulton County’s prosecution of former President Donald Trump, what to watch for as the General Assembly enters its final weeks, and a chance to join the NCAA Tournament bracket bonanza with yours truly.

Let’s get to it.



After weeks of waiting, Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee finally issued his ruling: Fulton County could continue prosecuting its case against former President Donald Trump and his allies, but either Fani Willis or Nathan Wade had to go.

Wade went.

So what’s next? Can the ruling be appealed — or is it on to the actual election interference case?

First, a quick recap: While McAfee ruled Friday that defense attorneys proved no actual conflict of interest, he wasn’t exactly impressed by Willis’ behavior.

He called the district attorney’s relationship with Wade, a special prosecutor she hired to help handle the Trump case, a “tremendous lapse in judgment.” He said there were “reasonable questions” — “an odor of mendacity” — about whether Willis and Wade testified truthfully about the timing of their entanglement.

Now what? As my AJC colleagues reported, Trump attorney Steve Sadow vowed Friday to “use all legal options available as we continue to fight to end this case.”

That could mean a lot of things. But the first step may involve Sadow (or another defense attorney) asking McAfee to greenlight sending the disqualification ruling to the state Court of Appeals for reconsideration. We won’t get too deep into the legalese, but McAfee doesn’t have to grant that permission. And the court could decline to get involved even if he does.

  • Legal experts like Georgia State University’s Anthony Michael Kreis expressed doubts that such efforts would bear fruit.

And then ... ? A gag order could be coming, too. In his ruling, McAfee called the Martin Luther King Day speech that Willis delivered at a local church “legally improper.” Willis’ speech involved her saying critics were playing the “race card” by targeting Wade.

McAfee said he’ll consider barring the district attorney from mentioning the case “in any public forum to prevent prejudicial pretrial publicity.”

  • Willis previously requested that the case go to trial in August. That’s a long time from now, with plenty of room for delays to arise.

Stay tuned to AJC.com and subscribe to our Trump indictment newsletter for all the latest.

Not signed up yet? What’re you waiting for? Get A.M. ATL in your inbox each weekday morning. And keep scrolling for more news.



Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns, R-Newington, speaks to media members after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law letting a prosecutor oversight commission begin working.

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

The Georgia General Assembly is headed for its home stretch. With just five working days left, key issues to watch include the budget (and its proposed pay raises for teachers and state employees), sports betting and immigration.

Keep an eye out for “Christmas trees” and “Frankenbills” — where lawmakers trim existing bills with unrelated language (”ornaments”) or cobble multiple pieces of legislation into one.



» Police say a robbery attempt led to a weekend shootout near several popular restaurants in West Midtown. One person sustained injuries.

» It’s pre-K lottery season. Don’t freak out if your tot doesn’t get into your preferred school. Other options abound.

» Robert Price, the longtime mayor of Locust Grove, died over the weekend while battling a “sudden illness.”



Russian President Vladimir Putin “won” his latest “election” and will serve a fifth term.


Israeli forces launched another raid on Gaza’s main hospital, accusing Hamas militants of using it as a base.



The field is set for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The No. 1 seeds: UConn, Purdue, Houston and North Carolina. Nary a team from Georgia made the cut, but we can still have some fun!

  • I started a bracket pool called “AM ATL Morning Madness” and you’re all invited to click right here and join. There are absolutely zero prizes at stake, besides possibly having your name mentioned in this newsletter if you do really well (and maybe even if you do really poorly).

Entries limited to ... however many people the website lets sign up. Good luck!

» Unbeaten South Carolina earns top overall seed in women’s tournament

» Georgia men headed to the NIT, play Xavier on Tuesday



  • Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr. played the outfield for the first time since tweaking his knee and reported no issues. Shortstop Orlando Arcia left early after a pitch hit him in the hand but X-rays were negative.
  • Hawks: Dejounte Murray and Deandre Hunter led the way in a dominant 110-93 road win over the Clippers. Next up: a visit with LeBron James and the Lakers (10:30 p.m. on Bally Sports Southeast).
  • Atlanta United: Giorgos Giakoumakis scored his fourth goal of the young season in the Five Stripes’ 2-0 win over Orlando.



In case you missed it: Margaritaville at Lanier Islands added “Apocalypso,” which it bills as Georgia’s first “waterslide coaster,” to its summer lineup. It’s 418 feet tall.



Your weekly roundup of dining news includes new vendors at food halls in East Atlanta and Midtown, a Korean fried chicken chain coming to Alpharetta and pizza in Brookhaven.



» Biden at roast: 1 of 2 presidential candidates mentally unfit, ‘the other’s me’

» OPINION: A son, a dog and a fentanyl epidemic

» Bears trade former Harrison star Justin Fields to Steelers

» Fulton property tax payments back online after hack

» End of 6% real estate commissions could mean lower home prices



March 18, 1977

Two professional bank robbers escaped the Fulton County jail during a “commando-style raid” in the middle of the night.

According to the Atlanta Constitution: “The gunmen cut an outer hurricane fence, crossed 100 yards to cut through a second fence, dragging an acetylene torch with them. At cellblock North 5 window, they handed the torch to one of the convicts and held 14 other prisoners at bay with a carbine. The five men retraced their steps through the fence openings to a waiting car.”

Both escapees — Willie Foster Sellers and Charles Calvin Gary — reportedly returned to their criminal ways before being captured again. In 2001, they admitted being involved in a deadly Virginia bank robbery shortly after their escape.

The Atlanta Constitution front page March 18, 1977.

Credit: File photo

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Credit: File photo



Ashton and Riley get ready for the start of then 140th Annual Atlanta St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Credit: Steve Schaefer / AJC

icon to expand image

Credit: Steve Schaefer / AJC

AJC photographer Steve Schaefer captured canine pals Ashton and Riley decked out in their best accessories during Atlanta’s 140th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Check out more photos from the holiday festivities in Atlanta and Savannah.



Before we go, here’s one worth a (brief) chuckle: A museum in St. Louis recently set a world record by ... convincing 355 people to wear underwear on their head at the same time.


Thanks for reading to the very bottom of A.M. ATL. Questions, comments, ideas? Contact me at tyler.estep@ajc.com.

Until next time.