Judge rejects Sidney Powell’s request to dismiss charges

A Fulton County judge Thursday rejected attorney Sidney Powell’s request to dismiss charges against her alleging she tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.

Powell asked Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee to dismiss racketeering and other conspiracy charges related to a breach of voter software in Coffee County in January 2021 because of prosecutorial misconduct. At a hearing Thursday, Powell attorney Brian Rafferty argued his client was not involved in the Coffee events and prosecutors may be hiding evidence that would exonerate her.

Deputy District Attorney Will Wooten said Rafferty offered no evidence of misconduct. He called the accusations “outrageous,” “not true,” “absurd” and “unsupported.”

McAfee rejected Powell’s motion on procedural grounds. He said he had no authority to dismiss the charges at this stage of the case. And he said it should be up to a jury to determine Powell’s guilt or innocence.

“We could sit here and have a preliminary trial that could last for weeks,” McAfee said. “But that’s not what we’re going to do.”

Other Powell motions to dismiss the charges are still pending. But Thursday’s ruling means Powell’s case is still headed for trial Oct. 20 alongside co-defendant Kenneth Chesebro, at least for now.

Thursday’s decision is the latest development in a criminal case stemming from former President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia and other swing states. In an indictment handed up in August, prosecutors said the 19 defendants’ various efforts amounted to a “criminal enterprise” in which they “knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump.”

Powell is charged for her alleged role in coordinating the Coffee County election data breach. On Jan. 7, 2021, computer analysts from the Atlanta tech firm SullivanStrickler visited the county election office and “stole data, including ballot images, voting equipment software and personal voter information,” according to the indictment.

In court filings, Powell contended “mischaracterized documents and suborned false or misleading testimony to create a false narrative that Ms. Powell was responsible for SullivanStrickler’s work in Coffee County.” Rafferty on Thursday said that the team that went into Coffee County was authorized but that Powell had nothing to do with it.

Prosecutors say they have turned over all evidence required to be disclosed by law. They say they have not turned over some information Powell requested, such as prosecutors’ raw notes made during witness interviews, which they say are “non-discoverable work product” by law.

Former Coffee County GOP Chairwoman Cathy Latham, bail bondsman Scott Hall and county elections supervisor Misty Hampton also have been charged for their alleged roles in the breach. Hall recently pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts in a deal with prosecutors and is expected to testify at Powell’s upcoming trial.