Co-defendants seek to punish Fulton prosecutor over legal brochure

Four request hearing to determine sanctions against Trump case lead

Lawyers for four of the defendants charged in the sweeping Fulton County election interference probe are calling for an examination of the special prosecutor spearheading the case.

In a Thursday court filing, attorneys representing David Shafer asked a Fulton judge to hold an evidentiary hearing about a brochure the former Georgia GOP chairman received from Nathan Wade’s law office. On Friday, three additional defendants joined Shafer’s motion after receiving similar mailers: Sidney Powell, Cathy Latham and Jeffrey Clark.

Wade has been leading the Fulton County District Attorney’s election investigation for nearly two years.

Shafer’s attorneys, Craig Gillen and Anthony Lake, argued in the original motion that the court should consider an “appropriate sanction” for Wade, “ranging from admonishment to disqualification.”

One legal ethics expert said the complaint likely wouldn’t go anywhere since the contact seemed minimal, though another called the solicitation a “bad look.”

The filing from Shafer’s team came in response to an unsolicited brochure that Wade’s two-person law firm, Wade & Campbell, sent to Shafer’s home address weeks after the Republican was indicted on eight charges, including racketeering and impersonating a public officer. Wade had helped bring the indictment and stood next to District Attorney Fani Willis as she publicly announced the charges during an Aug. 14 press conference.

Special prosecutor Nathan Wade (right) stands next to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis as she announces a racketeering indictment against former President Donald Trump and others at a press conference at Fulton County Government Center in Atlanta on Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. (Arvin Temkar/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

The brochure includes a smiling photo of Wade and his law partner, Christopher Campbell. At the bottom is Shafer’s name and one of the charges filed against him. Attached was a letter signed by Campbell advertising the firm’s legal services.

“Attorneys Wade & Campbell dedicate their criminal practice to protecting the rights of any and every individual charged with a Misdemeanor, Felony, DUI or Traffic Offense!!” the letter states.

The other three defendants said they received similar solicitations in recent days.

Shafer’s lawyers are arguing the brochure was harassing, mocking and in violation of an American Bar Association rule barring a lawyer from trying to poach another’s client.

“Surely Messrs. Campbell and Wade do not believe that Wade & Campbell could represent Mr. Shafer against the very criminal charges brought by Mr. Wade, its first named partner, and lead counsel in the prosecution,” Gillen and Lake wrote.

A spokesman for the Fulton DA’s office declined to comment on Thursday. Campbell did not respond to requests for comment.

Stephen Gillers, a professor emeritus at New York University Law School, said he doesn’t think Shafer’s complaint will advance far.

“The prohibition of contact with a represented party requires more than the receipt of a brochure,” said Gillers, who has written widely on legal and judicial ethics. “I suspect that the brochure might have been sent routinely because firms do solicit business this way from newly indicted persons without any firm lawyer participating in the decision.”

He added, “unless there was some effort to get information from the defendant, I don’t think this will go anywhere.”

Nathan Chapman, a University of Georgia law professor, called the solicitations a “bad look.”

“Campbell presumably knows the defendant has representation, and it is generally bad form to try to poach a client, even if the solicitation itself — which is in writing and does not involve any direct social pressure — is not forbidden by the rules of the bar,” Chapman said.

He added that there is “an obvious conflict of interest between the government and the defendant, one that is imputed to partners of a law firm. Both parties would have to agree to the conflict, which is not about to happen.”

Shafer was among the 19 defendants indicted last month for racketeering and other alleged crimes in conjunction with efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results. Shafer’s charges were related to his role as an elector for former President Donald Trump, including forgery and false statements and writings.

Booking shot of David Shafer at the Fulton County Jail on Aug. 23, 2023. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

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Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

His team has argued that Shafer was following legal advice from Trump’s lawyers and historic precedent from the 1960 presidential election in Hawaii.

In recent days, Shafer has sought to move his case to federal court and requested that the Fulton proceedings against him be stayed until 30 days after a federal judges decides whether to remove his case.

Shafer has also sought to disconnect, or sever, his case from the other defendants who have demanded a speedy trial to ensure he has sufficient time to prepare.

Fulton DA Fani Willis (center) confers with lead prosecutors, Donald Wakeford (left) and Nathan Wade, during a hearing at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta on Friday, July 1, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

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Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Clark is a former Justice Department official charged with criminal attempt to commit false statements and writings for his move to send a false memo on federal letterhead stating the department had concerns about election fraud in Georgia. Both Powell and Latham were indicted in conjunction with their alleged roles surrounding a breach of sensitive elections data in Coffee County in South Georgia.

Wade has been a top deputy to Fulton DA Fani Willis on the elections investigation since early last year. He led the DA’s presentations to the 23-member special grand jury that spent nearly eight months hearing witness testimony and collecting other evidence for Willis. On Wednesday, he argued on behalf of the DA’s office during a hearing before Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee.

A former municipal court judge in Cobb County, Wade is an old friend of Willis who mentored her when she briefly served as chief magistrate judge in South Fulton. Before serving as a special prosecutor, Wade advised Willis after she was elected and began staffing up her department.

The DA’s office has paid the Law Offices of Nathan J. Wade just shy of $549,000 since January 2022, according to Fulton records. Campbell has been paid more than $116,000 since April 2021.