In this essay, we attempt to catalog what is known and not yet known regarding the allegations of a relationship between Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Special Prosecutor Nathan Wade brought forward in a motion to disqualify them. The motion was filed by counsel for Michael Roman in the Fulton County, Georgia, election interference case arising from Donald Trump’s demand to “find 11,780 votes” and associated conduct by him and his co-conspirators. As two of the authors have argued in a prior Just Security essay, even if true the allegations do not give rise to disqualification as a matter of Georgia law.
Nevertheless, the matter has become the subject of intense public interest. We all agree that it would be better, assuming the allegations are true in whole or in part, if Willis and Wade had avoided this situation entirely. But assessing the allegations’ legal significance is an entirely different matter. It is important to document the facts that are known and note key omissions from the public narrative, such as the fact that Wade has felony trial experience as a defense lawyer—there has been the suggestion that he has none. Equally important is to identify the questions and unknowns that remain, which are substantial. Relevant information is currently spread out among multiple sites and it is useful for those trying to assess the situation to consolidate it with sources and links in one place. We address what appears to be true, false, and unknown, both with respect to Roman’s motion and some of the press coverage. We will periodically update this article as more information becomes available.
On Jan. 8, attorneys for Michael Roman filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him in the Fulton County case. Roman also seeks to disqualify Willis, Wade and “their respective offices and firms from …participating in this matter any further.” As is widely known by now, Roman alleges that Willis and Wade, who has long been in the process of divorcing his wife, are having a romantic affair and that Wade’s hiring and compensation create a conflict of interest.
During a speech on Jan. 14, Willis responded to some of Roman’s allegations. Willis did not expressly deny (or confirm) that she and Wade are in a romantic relationship. Nor did she deny (or confirm) that the two had vacationed together – as was alleged in Roman’s filing. Instead, Willis defended Wade’s qualifications, and claimed that he was paid the same hourly rate as the two other special prosecutors Willis hired and that he had previously been hired by an elected Republican at twice the hourly rate. Thus far, Wade has not publicly spoken about this matter.
Willis’s alleged relationship with Wade, if established, would reflect poor judgment, especially in the context of the high-profile prosecution of former President Donald Trump and his alleged co-conspirators. Her alleged behavior also appears to contradict a pledge she made to voters in 2020, when she said: “I will certainly not be choosing to date people that work under me.”
Some new information has come to light in the divorce proceedings between Nathan and Joycelyn Wade. In a Jan. 19 filing, Joycelyn Wade’s attorneys produced credit card statements apparently showing that Nathan Wade paid for vacations that he and Willis took together. It is not clear if Willis reimbursed him. The much-anticipated subsequent unsealing of the proceedings did not however reveal any additional information.
There remains much we do not know about this matter. But we will undoubtedly learn more in the days and weeks to come. Wade is scheduled to testify on Jan. 31. Judge Scott McAfee, who is presiding over the criminal case, has ordered Willis’s office to file a response to Roman’s motion by Feb. 2. Judge McAfee has also scheduled an evidentiary hearing for Feb. 15.
In the meantime, many other allegations have been swirling. Some of the claims may have merit – others do not. In the analysis below, we assess the facts as best as we can, based on the currently available record. Thus far, we have found the following:
- Comparison of Overall Compensation for Wade and Other Special Prosecutors
Nathan Wade has been paid far more, in total, than the other two special prosecutors hired by Willis: John Floyd and Anna Cross. To date, Wade has earned more than $650,000 from 2021 to 2023. The firm that employs John Floyd, a renowned RICO expert, was paid approximately $73,000 in 2022 and 2023. (It is not clear how much Floyd or his firm were paid for his work in 2021). Anna Cross’s firms earned about $91,000 in 2022 and 2023 from the District Attorney’s Office. However, our analysis of their contracts shows that the terms of their working arrangements with the District Attorney’s office are substantially different. As the lead prosecutor, Wade’s contracts allow for him to work far more hours than either of the other two special prosecutors are permitted to work under their contracts. Therefore, it is unsurprising that he earned much more per year.
- Comparison of Hourly Rate for Wade and Other Special Prosecutors
During her Jan. 14 speech, Willis claimed that she paid the three special prosecutors “all the same hourly rate.” Critics quickly pointed out that Willis had paid Wade more per hour ($250 per hour from 2021-2023) than Floyd ($150-$200 per hour from 2021-2022), even though Floyd is a widely recognized expert on RICO matters. However, Willis has paid Cross the same hourly rate as Wade. And it is not clear what Floyd’s current billing rate is—it may now be equal. Even if Willis paid Floyd the same hourly rate as Wade, Wade could earn much more per month because the terms of his contract permit him to work far more hours. In addition, $250 per hour is hardly an exorbitant rate for the work Wade is doing on this complicated, sprawling, and unprecedented case – many Special Assistant Attorneys General (SAAGs) in Georgia earn $250 or more per hour.
- Wade’s Experience and Qualifications
It is false that Wade has never handled felonies—but true that he has never done so as a prosecutor, only as a defense lawyer. Wade appears to have relatively little prosecutorial experience (lasting from late Oct. 1998 to Sept. 1999). He has not prosecuted a RICO case as far as we know, and “an AJC [Atlanta Journal Constitution] review of court records in metro Atlanta found no evidence he ever prosecuted a felony.” Wade does, however, have more than two decades of experience as a prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer (including in reportedly at least 75 criminal cases in state and federal court, including serious felony offenses), and civil practitioner. He was also appointed by a Republican mayor to serve as the first Black municipal court judge in Marietta, Georgia. In that role, Wade presided over low-level matters such as traffic offenses and other minor crimes. Wade also has bipartisan credentials, as he has spoken at Republican events and previously described himself as a “conservative family man.” Obviously, the RICO prosecution of the former U.S. president and 18 co-defendants, alleging that they conspired to overturn the 2020 presidential election and committed other crimes, is a complex case. But Willis did hire two other special prosecutors, including one with specific RICO expertise, to handle such a high-profile, challenging matter.
In addition, Willis has said in interviews dating back to 2022 that she hired Wade after other prosecutors turned her down for the job. She also explained that she hired Wade because he was thick skinned and would withstand her criticisms – and the criticism from Trump’s loyalists.
- Wade’s payments for travel with Willis
The credit card records produced by Wade’s wife and subsequent reporting apparently confirm that Wade and Willis vacationed together, along with (at times) Wade’s mother. The total amount Wade allegedly paid for these travels (including for his mother) was less than $13,000. It appears that the total amount Wade spent on Willis was several thousand dollars, though it is possible additional expenditures will come to light. Moreover, it is possible that Willis reimbursed Wade for any expenditures he fronted on her behalf. She may have done so directly by paying him, or indirectly by covering an equal amount of travel or other expenses to benefit him.
There has been no evidence so far that Wade made such payments before 2022. This fact may cut in both directions. On the one hand, it could mean Roman’s otherwise unsubstantiated claim that the two were in a romantic relationship when Wade was hired is false; on the other hand, it could mean Wade did not have the financial wherewithal to make such payments before taking the job.
- A key allegation in Roman’s filing is unsubstantiated and is actually contradicted by the evidence.
Roman claims that Willis paid Wade by misappropriating funds that were intended to clear a backlog of COVID-era cases. But Roman does not prove his claim. In fact, evidence cited in his filing contradicts his allegation – showing that Willis repeatedly used other funds to pay Wade. In addition, public reporting shows that Willis hired additional staff to handle the COVID backlog, just as the additional funds from Fulton County were intended for. Publicly available data show that Willis’s office efficiently dispensed with almost all the backlogged cases.
- Based on a misreading of a Fulton County flier/advertisement for defense lawyers, Roman falsely claims that Wade is not qualified to serve as defense counsel in this case.
Roman argues, based on his misreading of a flier, that Wade is not qualified to serve as special prosecutor. Based on this same misreading, Roman falsely claims Wade should only be paid $140 per hour. Roman’s arguments here are inaccurate and irrelevant when it comes to the RICO prosecution of Trump and his co-defendants. Roman does not cite any evidence to support these arguments other than the one Fulton County flier, which he misreads.
- Roman also erroneously claims that Wade should be disqualified because he previously failed to file his oath as special prosecutor. However, Roman’s co-defendants previously raised this argument, and Judge McAfee rejected it.
- Roman also incorrectly states that Willis needed to get county approval to hire Wade. In fact, the law is the opposite. In Georgia, DA’s have the authority to hire special prosecutors without express county approval.
In Section II below, we set forth the facts concerning the three special prosecutors’ compensation here. We then examine their publicly available contracts. These contracts indicate that Wade was expected to work far more hours than either of the other two special prosecutors. We then show why criticisms of Wade’s billing rate are misplaced. The facts also show that Roman has falsely accused Willis of misappropriating COVID funds to pay Wade.
In Section III below, we briefly summarize Wade’s qualifications and experience. Roman has falsely claimed that Wade is disqualified from serving as special prosecutor. We then offer a brief conclusion in Section IV.
II. The Special Prosecutors’ Compensation
Fulton County publishes records showing the payments made to all its vendors, including the District Attorney Office’s payments to the three special prosecutors hired by Willis. Fulton County’s data show that Wade was paid a total of $653,881 between Nov. 2021 and Oct. 2023. This figure likely includes reimbursements for travel and lodging. This is far greater than the amounts paid to the law firms of the two other special prosecutors. John Floyd’s firm, Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore LLP, was paid a total of $72,907 in 2022 and 2023. (Payment data for 2021 were not immediately available.) Press reports indicate that the District Attorney’s Office has paid Anna Cross’s firms approximately $91,000, with $47,979 paid to the Cross Firm LLC in 2022 and $42,868 paid to Cross Kincaid LLC in 2023. In the aggregate, these figures show that Wade received more compensation than the other two special prosecutors combined.
The disparity between Wade’s compensation and that of the other two special prosecutors is driven mainly by two factors: the total number of hours the special prosecutors were allowed to bill and their billing rates. Under their respective contracts, Wade was expected to work and bill far more hours per month as the lead prosecutor than the other two special prosecutors.
A. The Special Prosecutors’ Contracts
Not all the special prosecutors’ contracts with Willis have been released to the public. However, what appear to be at least some of the contracts for all three have been published online, allowing us to compare the terms of each special prosecutor’s work arrangement with the District Attorney’s office.
Roman’s filing attaches three contracts signed by Willis and Wade. In Nov. 2021, the pair signed a one-year contract. The document contained in Roman’s filing (see p. 84) is an addendum to the original contract. The addendum specifies how Wade will be reimbursed for his travel and lodging expenses, but does not set forth the overall terms of his compensation. However, billing invoices attached to the filing show that Wade billed at a consistent rate of $250 per hour while working under this first contract.
Willis and Wade then agreed to two extensions, one on Nov. 15, 2022 (see pp. 103-107 of Roman’s filing) and the second on June 12, 2023 (see pp. 116-119). These contracts set Wade’s hourly rate at $250 per hour. The contracts also established a maximum number of hours he could bill per month and capped the total amount he could bill. In the first contract extension (p. 105), signed Nov. 15, 2022, Wade’s hours were set at a maximum of 600 hours over six months and his earnings were capped at $150,000 over this same six-month period. In the second contract extension (p. 117), signed June 12, 2023, Wade’s hours were capped at 90 hours for July and then 120 hours for each of the remaining months through December 2023. Wade’s total earnings under the second extension were capped at $210,000 for the entire six and a half month agreement.
The Daily Caller and Fox 5 Atlanta have obtained two contracts between John Floyd and Willis. In the first contract, which covered Apr. 1, 2021 through Apr. 1, 2022, Floyd’s billing rate was set at $150 per hour. Floyd was authorized to bill up to 40 hours per month and his monthly billings were capped at $6,000. Floyd was required to receive written permission if he intended to exceed these limits. Under the terms of the second contract, which covered Apr. 1, 2022 through Oct. 31, 2022, Floyd’s billing rate was increased to $200 per hour and the cap on his monthly billable hours was also doubled to 80 hours.
The Daily Caller and Fox 5 Atlanta also obtained one contract between Anna Cross and Willis, covering July 15, 2022 through June 30, 2023. Cross’s billing rate was set at $250 per hour, while her hours were capped at 80 per month absent written permission to work more.
Therefore, the special prosecutors’ contracts with Willis indicate that Wade’s billing was regularly capped at 100-120 hours per month, whereas Floyd’s monthly cap increased from just 40 hours per month in 2021 to 80 hours per month in 2022, and Cross’s hours were capped at 80 per month from 2022 to 2023. This comparison is not perfect because the special prosecutors’ contracts were signed in different months and covered different date ranges. So it is not possible to perfectly line up the terms of their compensation for comparison. However, the contracts we do have show that Wade’s hours were capped at more per month than either of the other two special prosecutors. The three lawyers also had different roles and responsibilities on the team, such that the amount of hours worked per month could be expected to be different.
It should be noted that the judge overseeing Wade’s divorce proceedings held Wade in contempt for defying a court order by wilfully failing to turn over documents regarding his income. This occurred just a few days after a Georgia grand jury indicted Trump. It appears from court records that Wade did eventually turn over the income documents.
B. The Special Prosecutors’ Billing Rates
During her Jan. 14 speech, Willis claimed that she paid the three special prosecutors “all the same hourly rate.” Willis’s remarks were quickly criticized because the available contracts show that Wade ($250 per hour) was paid a higher hourly rate than Floyd ($150-$200 per hour) throughout much of the relevant time period. However, it is not clear what Floyd’s current hourly rate is. As the available contracts make clear, Floyd’s hourly rate was increased from $150 per hour in 2021 to $200 per hour in 2022. It would not be surprising if Floyd’s hourly rate increased again to $250. That said, the two lawyers’ contracts both began months apart in 2021 with a discrepancy in their hourly rates upon being hired ($150 compared to $250). Meanwhile, Cross’s hourly billing rate ($250 per hour) has been the same as Wade’s.
As the terms of the contracts make clear, however, the hourly rate is only one component of the special prosecutors’ contracts. Wade’s contracts clearly indicate that he is expected to work more total hours than either Floyd or Cross. For instance, even if Floyd’s billing rate had been increased to $250 per hour in late 2021 and 2022, he still would have earned significantly less compensation per month than Wade, who was billing more total hours.
Additionally, $250 per hour is hardly an excessively high rate given the circumstances. Quite the contrary. For example, the Office of the Attorney General of Georgia engaged hundreds of Special Assistant Attorneys General (SAAGs) in Fiscal Year 2023. See Office of the Attorney General, Outside Counsel Fee Information. Those records reflect that in 2022, 18 SAAGs were paid precisely the same $250 an hour as Wade, and some SAAGs made well over $1,000 an hour.
C. Roman Has Not Produced Evidence Proving Willis Misappropriated COVID Funds to Pay Wade
In 2021, DA Willis requested additional funds from Fulton County to clear a backlog of cases that built up during the COVID pandemic. Willis’s office was not alone in this regard, as the pandemic created a backlog of cases across Georgia’s legal system. For this reason, officials in Fulton County launched Project ORCA to clear the backlog.
In his Jan. 8 filing, Roman claims that Willis “has not used” additional funds that were intended to clear a backlog of COVID-era cases “for that purpose,” but instead used the funds to pay Wade. Roman alleges that Willis has paid “her partner [Wade] a large sum of money that was originally allotted to clear the backlog of cases in Fulton County following the Covid pandemic.” However, Roman has not produced evidence proving that Willis misappropriated funds to pay Wade. Evidence Roman does cite actually contradicts his unfounded allegation – showing that Willis repeatedly used other funds to pay Wade. In addition, publicly-available evidence shows that Willis’s office appropriately used additional funds to hire the personnel necessary to clear the backlog of COVID-era cases.
Roman’s own filing (see p. 14) indicates that Wade’s “first three invoices (for November 2021-January 2022) were paid for out of the ‘confiscated funds/ seized property’ fund” – that is, not additional COVID-related funds – “and the remaining were paid out of the County ‘general’ fund” for the period of March 2022 through October 2022.
Roman cites (see pp. 78-79) the Fulton County resolution authorizing additional COVID funds for Willis’s office. This resolution indicates an additional $780,621.84 was allocated for CY 2021 and a maximum of $5,000,000 was allocated for CY 2022 to hire an additional 55 employees. Roman does not show that any of these specific funds were used to pay Wade. Moreover, Willis’s office used this funding to hire additional employees as was intended by Fulton County. As of July 2023, her office had reportedly hired 64 additional employees specifically to reduce the COVID backlog.
Publicly available data show that Willis’s office has cleared the backlog of COVID cases – just as the funds were intended to do. At the beginning of Project ORCA in late 2021, Willis’s office had more than 16,200 “remaining cases.” As of early 2024, Willis’s office has reduced that figure to just 81 cases – effectively eliminating the backlog almost entirely. According to Project ORCA’s requirements, Willis’s office is far ahead of the government’s deadline.
Roman further suggests (see pp. 10-11) that Willis should have sought approval from Fulton County Officials to pay Wade with COVID-related funds. Immediately after noting that Willis sought and received additional resources to clear this backlog, and citing the resolution (Exhibit C on pp. 76-79) authorizing additional COVID-related funds for Willis’s office, Roman’s filing reads: “Undersigned counsel has confirmed, through open records requests and direct inquiry with representatives for Fulton County, that Willis did not seek or receive authorization to contract or pay Wade as outside counsel to serve in the capacity of a special prosecutor.” However, the pretext for his argument is false. Simply put: Willis did not need to get permission to use COVID-related funds to hire Wade, because Roman has failed to produce specific proof she used dedicated COVID-related funds to pay him in the first place.
Given the burden on the movant and the other intended uses to which the COVID funds were put, it is not enough to imply that the funds were commingled with the general fund which was then used to pay Wade. The Fulton County District Attorney’s budget was: $26.3 million in 2021, $32.4 million in 2022, and nearly $37 million in 2023. That is, the total budget over three years was approximately $96 million. Roman has not proven that the $5 million or so per year that was part of that for COVID purposes was used to pay Wade— particularly given the documented extensive use of those funds for their intended purpose.
D. Wade’s Alleged Gifts to Willis
In his Jan. 8 filing, Roman alleged that Wade paid for Willis to travel with him to Napa Valley, Florida and the Caribbean, and that Wade purchased tickets for the two of them on both the Norwegian and Royal Caribbean cruise lines. Roman argues that Willis has therefore “benefitted substantially and directly” from the payments to Wade.
While Roman did not produce any evidence to substantiate these claims, subsequent reporting appears to confirm that Wade paid for the two to vacation together.
On Jan. 19, Wade’s wife filed a pleading in their divorce proceedings. The filing includes credit card statements apparently showing that Wade paid for vacations he and Willis took together. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the credit card statements show that Wade paid approximately $13,000 on airfare, cruises, hotels and other related travel expenses. Some of these payments also allegedly include the travel expenses for Clara Bowman, a woman who is “believed to be Wade’s mother.”
It is not clear if Willis reimbursed Wade for any of these expenses. Willis could have provided direct reimbursement to Wade, or she could have indirectly reimbursed him by covering other expenses associated with the trips or in another way.
There also may be more expenses that have yet to be reported or uncovered. But thus far, the total amount Wade is alleged to have spent on vacations including Willis, before deducting the amounts Wade spent on himself and his mother, is less than $13,000 over more than two years. It appears that the total amount Wade spent on Willis amounted to a few thousand dollars.
III. Wade’s Qualifications
Roman alleges that Wade is not qualified to serve as a Fulton County special prosecutor. Roman claims that his “undersigned counsel is unaware of, and is unable to find any history of, Wade ever having prosecuted a single felony trial” and “has never tried a felony RICO case.” It does appear that Wade had never tried a RICO case prior to his role as special prosecutor. However, Wade’s alleged inexperience with this type of case does not appear to prejudice Roman or any of his co-defendants; in fact, his relative inexperience could if anything help them avoid conviction. In addition, while Roman claims that Wade has never prosecuted a felony case, the New York Times recently reported that “he defended clients in a number of serious felony cases,” and that this work included “clients charged with aggravated assault and battery, armed robbery, rape, cocaine trafficking and financial fraud.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that Wade served as a defense attorney in 75 criminal cases in state and federal court.
As explained below, Wade does have more than two decades of experience as a prosecutor, criminal defense lawyer, civil practitioner, and municipal court judge – in the latter role, however, he dealt mainly with low-level traffic violations and similar issues, which are very different from the current matter.
Roman makes additional claims about Wade’s qualifications that are factually false. For example, Roman alleges that Wade would not be qualified to serve as defense counsel in this matter because he has not tried “at least two criminal trials of similar offenses” (Roman places great emphasis on Wade not having previously prosecuted a RICO case) and, based on Fulton County’s practices, Roman claims Wade should only be paid $140 per hour. As explained more fully below, these erroneous claims are based on a clear misreading of a Fulton County flier/advertisement seeking contract attorneys to defend criminal cases. That advertisement offers different rates based on the severity of cases. However, the advertisement has no real relevance to this RICO prosecution.
A. Brief Summary of Nathan Wade’s Experience
Wade was then admitted to the bar and hired by the Cobb County Solicitor’s Office. According to the New York Times, Wade “was employed for about a year,” beginning in the late 1990s. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution puts the exact dates at Oct. 1, 1998 to Sept. 11, 1999, and notes that Wade was initially hired as a judicial program coordinator and promoted to an assistant solicitor position on May 24, 1999. The Cobb County Solicitor’s office prosecuted “misdemeanors and traffic citations.” The Times added that Wade “appears to have had little prosecutorial experience beyond that, until now.” According to the Washington Post, Wade “then served as a prosecutor for ‘several municipalities’ in Cobb County before transitioning to private practice, where he primarily handled family law, contract and civil litigation cases.”
In 2010, a Republican mayor appointed Wade to be a municipal court judge in Marietta, just outside of Atlanta. This reportedly made Wade the first Black male judge in the city’s history. In that role, according to the Times, Wade “presided over cases dealing with some misdemeanor crimes, traffic tickets and violations of city ordinances.” The Post adds that Wade was “one of a handful of part-time judges” in this role and more serious offenses, such as felonies, were handled by Georgia’s state courts.
According to the Times, Wade “ran unsuccessfully to be a judge in Cobb County Superior Court.” In June 2020, the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office hired Wade to investigate jailhouse deaths. But the sheriff’s office and Wade subsequently claimed that it was not an investigation at all, only a review of evidence. During a court hearing in October 2020, Wade said he did not keep any notes, including from his time interviewing the sheriff’s deputies, during his five months of work.
Wade and his law partner run their own private practice, which specializes in contract litigation, family law, personal injury, and criminal defense. It should also be noted that, in 2023, Willis told the New York Times that she hired Wade after several other candidates turned her down.
B. Roman’s False Claims Concerning Wade’s Qualifications
Roman falsely argues that Wade is not qualified to serve as the special prosecutor because he lacks the credentials listed on a Fulton County flier/advertisement for “Contract Attorney Assignments,” which appears to be from 2022. Roman attaches this motion as Exhibit D (p. 81) to his motion. Roman claims, based on this advertisement, that Wade “would not be qualified to serve as defense counsel in this RICO case because he has not tried ‘at least two criminal trials of similar offenses.’” Therefore, Roman poses the question: “If the special prosecutor is not qualified to defend this case under Fulton County’s standards, then how is he qualified to prosecute the case?”
Roman’s argument is based on a clear misreading of Exhibit D. Roman cites the standards applied in “Tier 1” cases, which involve “[m]urder, rape, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, and aggravated sexual battery.” None of those applies in this RICO case. Instead, this case appears to fall in “Tier 3” and thus requires only a “minimum of three (3) months experience as criminal trial attorney” – experience that Wade clearly has.
Moreover, the County’s requirements for serving as a contract criminal defense attorney are not binding on the District Attorney, and with good reason: The U.S. Constitution guarantees criminal defendants effective assistance of counsel, not effective prosecutors. When facing challenges for ineffective assistance, a defense attorney’s specific trial experience is often an issue. Prosecutors don’t face the same challenges to their effectiveness, and they can be sufficiently qualified based on experience broader than merely the number of cases tried.
Based on the same misreading of Exhibit D (p. 81), Roman falsely claims that Wade should have been paid only $140 per hour. That rate, as stated on the Fulton County advertisement, is for defense attorneys who represent clients in cases “in which neither the Public Defender nor the Metro Conflict Defender can represent the defendant.” That is not comparable to Wade’s current position as a special prosecutor in the RICO case against Trump and his co-defendants – a complex case that requires the prosecutorial efforts of not just Wade, but also Willis, two other special prosecutors and others.
As critics allege, it appears to be true that Wade does not have experience in prosecuting RICO cases or other felony cases. “An AJC [Atlanta Journal Constitution] review of court records in metro Atlanta found no evidence he ever prosecuted a felony.” However, many prosecutors do not have experience with RICO cases and such experience should not necessarily be required to be one of the multiple special prosecutors on this case – particularly given that Wade serves as the lead prosecutor, and another special prosecutor on the case is a leading RICO expert. At any rate, Wade has relevant experience handling felony cases as a defense lawyer.
C. Roman Falsely Claims Wade is Disqualified from Serving as Special Prosecutor Because He Failed to File his Oath
Roman claims that Wade is disqualified from serving as special prosecutor because he did not immediately file his oath of office. Judge McAfee has previously rejected this argument, so Roman is merely repeating a failed defense.
For example, prior to accepting a plea deal in the Fulton County election interference case, Kenneth Chesebro made the same argument that Roman has now brought before the court. Chesebro’s counsel argued that Wade should be disqualified because he failed to file his oath of office. However, Judge Scott McAfee has previously pointed out that the specific Georgia code at issue states that this requirement “shall not apply to any deputy who may be employed in particular cases only.” McAfee explained that deputies who are “sworn in for a ‘more limited role’ are ‘exempted’ from having to file and enter the record of their oath.” That is true in this matter, as Wade was specifically hired “for the purpose of assisting the Special Purpose Grand Jury and prosecuting the matter that led to the indictment in this case.”
There is no material dispute over the fact that Wade swore his oath of office. His alleged failure to immediately file his oath is not disqualifying.
Roman also wrongly states that Willis needed to get county approval to hire Wade. In fact, the law is exactly the opposite. In Georgia, District Attorneys have the authority to hire special prosecutors without express county approval.
None of this should be read as a defense of the wisdom of Willis’s alleged relationship with Wade. As we wrote at the outset, if the core allegation is true, then Willis and Wade exercised extremely poor judgment – especially in the context of such a high-profile case. We have not yet heard a full response from Willis or Wade, and there are still many unknowns – perhaps most importantly whether the two were in a romantic relationship when Willis hired Wade and whether the apparent gifts were reimbursed. It is clear that Wade worked and earned far more than his fellow two special prosecutors, and he had less relevant expertise prior to being assigned to this case than one might have expected. That said, Wade brought other assets to the position including potentially his temperament, criminal defense experience, respect among the legal bar in Georgia, and conservative/Republican credentials. Finally, Roman made multiple inaccurate statements in his filing seeking the disqualification of both Willis and Wade. Those inaccuracies should not cloud the public record even further.
Photo credit: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis flanked on her left by Nathan Wade speaks during a news conference at the Fulton County Government building on August 14, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. A grand jury today handed up an indictment naming former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants in an alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)