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Georgia appeals court agrees to review ruling allowing Fani Willis to stay on Trump election case

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ATLANTA (AP) — An appeals court in Georgia agreed Wednesday to review a lower court’s ruling allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to proceed pursuing an election interference case she brought against former President Donald Trump.

Trump and a number of other other defendants within the case tried to remove Willis and her office from the case, claiming that her romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade created a conflict of interest. Supreme Court Justice Scott McAfee said in March that there was no conflict of interest that might force Willis to withdraw from the case, but he granted Trump and the opposite defendants’ request to appeal his ruling to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

On Wednesday, the intermediate appellate court agreed to take up the case. Once the ruling is issued, the losing party may ask the Supreme Court of Georgia to hear an appeal.

Trump’s lead lawyer in Georgia, Steve Sadow, said in an email that the previous president looked forward to presenting arguments to the appeals court explaining why the case needs to be dismissed and why Willis “should be disqualified for her misconduct in this unwarranted, unwarranted political persecution.”

A spokesman for Willis declined to comment on the Court of Appeal’s decision to take up the case.

The appeals court’s decision to hear the case appears likely to delay the case and further reduce the likelihood that it’s going to go to trial before the November general election, when Trump is anticipated to be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

In his order, McAfee said he plans to proceed to hear other pretrial motions “regardless of whether the petition is granted… and even if the appellate court advances any subsequent appeals.” Trump and others, nevertheless, could ask the Court of Appeals to put the case on hold until an appeal is heard.

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McAfee wrote in his March order that the charge “was burdened with an appearance of impropriety.” He said Willis would only be allowed to proceed working on the case if Wade left, and the special prosecutor resigned a number of hours later.

Allegations that Willis improperly profited from her affair with Wade led to tumultuous months within the case as intimate details of Willis and Wade’s personal lives emerged in court in mid-February. Serious charges in certainly one of 4 criminal cases against the previous Republican president were largely overshadowed by prosecutors’ love lives.

In August, Trump and 18 others were indicted on charges of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to illegally try to make up for his narrow 2020 presidential election loss to Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia.

All defendants were charged with violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, or RICO, an expansive anti-racketeering statute. Four people charged within the case pleaded guilty after reaching an agreement with prosecutors. Trump and others have pleaded not guilty.

Trump and the opposite defendants argued of their appeal motion that McAfee was mistaken not to remove each Willis and Wade, writing that “providing District Attorney Willis with the choice to simply remove Wade disrupts logic and is contrary to state law Georgia.”

The allegations against Willis first surfaced in a motion filed in early January by Ashleigh Merchant, a lawyer for former Trump campaign staffer and former White House adviser Michael Roman. The motion alleged that Willis and Wade were involved in an inappropriate romantic relationship and that Willis paid Wade large sums for his work after which profited by paying for lavish vacations.

Willis and Wade confirmed the connection, but said they didn’t start dating until spring 2022, when Wade was hired in November 2021, and their romance ended last summer. They also testified that they split travel expenses roughly equally, with Willis often covering expenses or reimbursing Wade in money.


This article was originally published on : thegrio.com
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Brooklyn preacher who bragged about ties to New York mayor sentenced to nine years in prison for years of fraud

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NEW YORK (AP) – A superb Brooklyn preacher who developed relationships with the mayor of New York was sentenced Monday to nine years in prison for multiple counts of fraud.

Lamor Miller-Whitehead, 45, of Paramus, New Jersey, was sentenced in federal court in Manhattan by Judge Lorna G. Schofield, who said she saw no significant remorse on the part of the bishop driving a Rolls Royce convicted of defrauding one parishioner of $90,000 in retirement savings, amongst other frauds.

In a rambling statement, Miller-Whitehead said he was “very remorseful” but bragged about his good deeds in his community and expressed regret about the trial, prompting the judge to interrupt him with a reminder that sentencing will not be the time for reconsideration matters matter.

“The court heard the evidence. The jury returned a verdict,” she said.

In March, a jury convicted Miller-Whitehead of all counts, including wire fraud, attempted extortion and perjury. Schofield said the preacher committed perjury while testifying.

She said the lengthy prison sentence was mandatory because Miller-Whitehead was highly likely to commit future crimes, especially since previous convictions for similar offenses had not deterred him from committing further crimes.

“You don’t seem to realize the consequences of your crimes,” Schofield said.

“Your honor, I am an honorable man and my children need me,” he said, asking to be spared prison time and becoming a “poster child for another chance.”

Miller-Whitehead became friends with Mayor Eric Adams while Adams was Brooklyn’s borough president before being elected to the town’s top job. Prosecutors argued that Miller-Whitehead used the Adams name to commit fraud and attempted extortion. Adams has not been charged with any wrongdoing in the case.

Miller-Whitehead mentioned Adams in his pre-sentence remarks.

Asked about the sentence during Monday’s news conference, Adams said: “I am praying for Bishop Whitehead and wish him the best.”

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Miller-Whitehead became a non secular figure in 2013 when he founded Leaders of Tomorrow International Ministries. He was also known for wearing designer clothes and was once the victim of a robbery when bandits who surprised him during a church service stole $1 million price of jewelry from him.

Although he preached primarily in Brooklyn, he owned a $1.6 million home in Paramus, New Jersey, and an apartment in Hartford, Connecticut.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Wikstrom asked for a sentence of greater than 12 years in prison, arguing that Miller-Whitehead defrauded large financial institutions in addition to a parishioner who lost her life savings.

“He didn’t distinguish. He fooled everyone,” Wikstrom said.

Miller-Whitehead, Wikstrom said, “lied and stole nonstop.”

“He cannot stop stealing. He won’t stop lying,” the prosecutor said. “That’s what the defendant is.”

Wikstrom said Miller-Whitehead had experienced a “psychological and delusional failure” to accept that he had committed against the law and have to be punished.

In addition to the prison sentence, Miller-Whitehead was also ordered to pay $85,000 in restitution and forfeit $95,000.

His lawyer, Dawn Florio, urged him to stay out of jail, citing her client’s charity work and saying “you can’t ignore everything he’s done for the community.”

The judge said that if not for these good deeds, Miller-Whitehead’s sentence would have been longer.

This article was originally published on : thegrio.com
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‘American Crime’ Star Regina King on On-Screen Chemistry with Andre 3000

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'American Crime' Star Regina King on On-Screen Chemistry with Andre 3000

ABC

To know Terri LaCroix on “ABC” is to dislike her – and that is the point.

This is considered one of the the reason why Regina King has a lot fun with her. Terri is nothing like Aliyah, the militant Muslim character King played within the show’s first season, which earned the actress her well-deserved first Emmy Award. Terri, an upper-class elitist, is meaner, but additionally much easier to discover.

“Everybody knows Terri,” King, 45, said in a recent telephone interview. “Terri enjoys power and likes to be in control. He’s so far from Aliyah and so far from me. She’s stuck and I really enjoy playing her.”

18 of Regina King’s fiercest roles

This time, produced and created by John Ridley, the series tackles racism, classism and homophobia through the prism of the alleged sexual assault of a working-class teenage boy. Terri’s son, Kevin (Trevor Jackson), is a handsome highschool basketball star who can also be considered one of those accused of assault. When the accusations begin to flow and threaten all the pieces Terri and her husband Michael LaCroix (Andre Benjamin aka Andre 3000) have worked so hard to realize, Terri wastes no time on a lawyer and goes on the defensive.

“She’s unlikeable, but most Black people I’ve talked to understand her position and where her thoughts go in that space,” King said. “They may not like her and she may not be their friend, but most upper-middle-class Black people understand why Terri is the way she is. Getting to where Terri is is no easy feat. So why would you ever want to leave? That’s how she looks at it.”

In the primary season, many of the African-American characters were from middle and dealing class backgrounds. But this season we’re dealing with a black family that’s wealthy, well-connected and downright snobbish.

Black actresses on Primetime needs to be the norm

“Elitism is not the domain of Black people,” King said. “It’s just an elitist thing. I know a lot of people like that, not just black people. But isn’t it great that this time the elite family is a Black family? You don’t see Black people like that on TV.”

But do not be fooled by elitism. As with King and most of us, family comes first to Terri.

“She becomes vulnerable. “Family is the most important thing to her,” said King, who has been within the industry for 31 years. “For the first time in a long time, she is one of those little people. Meryl Streep said – I know I’m twisting this quote – one of the greatest things about being an actor is that you get a role that is nothing like you. But part of your job as an actor is to find a bit of yourself in the character, because that makes it real to people. It’s always fun and that’s why I love this art form so much.”

Unlike Aliyah, Terri is married and has an undeniable physical and emotional bond with her husband. Let’s talk in regards to the power couple. When asked in regards to the on-screen chemistry between her and Benjamin, 40, King chuckled.

Have you seen Andre 3000 on ABC’s “American Crime”?

“He’s wonderful,” King said of her TV spouse. “He’s an exquisite man. He really is. It was a simple ride. We have great chemistry. We are each parents of boys. My son (Ian Alexander Jr., 20) is a yr older than his son Seven. We are each single parents of only children and we each like to smile.

We smile too, Regina. We smile too.

airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. If you missed the primary three episodes, you may catch up on ABC.com.

This article was originally published on : www.essence.com
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Maryland Governor Wes Moore intends to issue over 175,000 pardons for marijuana convictions

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Maryland Gov. Wes Moore is predicted to sign an executive order on Monday authorizing clemency for greater than 175,000 people convicted of marijuana charges, the governor’s office said.

Authorities describe these pardons as the most important within the history of state pardons to date. His office said the governor’s actions on paraphernalia cases make Maryland the primary state to take such motion.

According to The Washington Post, which first reported the order on Sunday evening, the pardons will clear charges of possession of small amounts of marijuana for about 100,000 people.

Moore plans to sign the manager order Monday morning on the state Capitol in Annapolis within the presence of Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown.

Recreational marijuana was legalized in Maryland in 2023 after voters approved a 2022 constitutional amendment with a 67% vote. Maryland decriminalized possession of marijuana for personal use on January 1, 2023. Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.

“The Moore-Miller Administration is committed to promoting social equity and ensuring the fair and equitable administration of justice,” the governor’s office said. “Because the use and possession of cannabis is no longer illegal in this state, Marylanders should not continue to face barriers to housing, employment or educational opportunities based on convictions for conduct that is no longer illegal.”

Brown, a Democrat, called the pardons “certainly overdue as a nation” and “an issue of racial equality.”

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“While the pardon will apply to anyone who has been convicted of a misdemeanor for possession of marijuana or paraphernalia, it unequivocally, without any doubt or qualification, has a disproportionate impact – in a good way – on Black and Brown Marylanders,” Brown said “The Post”.

According to a summary from the governor’s office, the manager order will impact greater than 150,000 convictions for easy possession of cannabis, which may also include greater than 18,000 convictions for use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia.

Pardons reflect the variety of convictions. For some people, multiple conviction could have been pardoned in the course of the trial.

A pardon won’t end in anyone being released from prison.

The governor’s office said that after Moore signs the pardon, the Maryland court will make sure that each individual electronic record is accomplished with an entry indicating that the governor has pardoned the sentence. This process should take roughly two weeks.

The governor’s order also directs the state Department of Corrections to develop a process for entering an individual’s criminal record when pardons are entered, a process expected to take roughly 10 months to complete.

A pardon absolves people of guilt for a criminal offense and so they wouldn’t have to take any motion to receive a pardon.

A pardon is different from an expungement. Although the court will note within the case file that the offense has been pardoned, it’ll still appear on the case file. Expungement is the method by which a conviction is destroyed and completely faraway from the general public record, requiring a further step.

This article was originally published on : thegrio.com
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