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Grand juries typically don’t do media tours, and for good reason. They risk blowing up the criminal case they’ve been working on.
That’s why a rogue Georgia jury, which launched a bizarre media blitz this week shortly after completing an investigation into former President Donald Trump’s activities in the 2020 election, caused such an uproar.
Emily Coase told multiple media outlets, including CNN and NBC, breathlessly, to focus on Trump before coming out of seven months of near-total secrecy. Served as foreman of a special purpose grand jury. She recommended criminal charges against a dozen people, including celebrities and “potentially” Trump.
She shared more information that grand juries typically keep private, including personal impressions of several witnesses. She said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was a “geeky kind of funny.” She was so star-struck by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that she shook his hand. She swore a state official under oath while holding a Ninja Turtle popsicle she`d just picked up at an ice cream party thrown by the District Attorney`s office.
She said some witnesses were forthcoming, like White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson; and others clammed up, like Hutchinson`s onetime-boss, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Being on the grand jury, she said, was “really cool.”
Trump`s lawyers pounced, arguing Kohrs “poisoned” the entire probe by going public.
“Our suspicions of a circus were proven to be true: We heard about ice cream parties; we heard about swearing people under oath holding Ninja Turtle popsicles,” Trump attorney Drew Findling told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Whether or not you call this a special-purpose grand jury, the public should know that this is not the true role of a grand jury.”
Trump’s attorneys have yet to file allegations related to Cole’s statement. But they said they think she’s gone too far and are considering all her options.
The controversy plays out at a critical time in the Fulton County District Attorney’s investigation into Trump and her supporters. Willis received a report from Cole’s special grand jury in January, announcing that a decision to prosecute her was “imminent.”
Prosecutors declined to comment on how Cole’s comments might affect next steps.
According to several independent attorneys prosecuting the case, Coles caused Willis headaches and public image issues, but that didn’t really derail Trump’s case.
“I don’t think the grand jury testimony really changed anything,” said Titus Nichols, a Georgia defense attorney and former attorney with the Augusta County Attorney’s Office. He did not disclose specific crimes.”
Grand jury deliberations must be confidential. But Georgia’s rules are looser than the federal system.
Judge Robert McBurney, who has overseen the work of the special purpose grand jury, did not bar panel members from speaking to the media. Technically, he said, he meant conversations that the grand jury had between them when there were no witnesses or prosecutors in the room. Kohrs technically does not appear to have broken these rules, Anthony Michael Kreis, an assistant law professor at Georgia State University, told VICE News.
“It’s a visual problem, not a practical one,” he said Kreis. “I think most people react because they’re surprised that she can even speak and judge her own appearance on TV.”
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said Cole’s remarks gave the defense an opportunity to move or appeal, but he was skeptical that they would succeed.
“Though these efforts are likely to fail, this is still a distraction that weighs heavily on the Fulton County Attorney’s Office,” Mariotti tweeted. I think they often use the foreman’s comments to claim injustice or prejudice.”
Some veteran former prosecutors were less confident.
“A gossiping grand jury is threatening to overthrow the entire company,” said Barbara McQuaid, the former chief federal attorney in Detroit. “At some point, the inadequacy of a grand jury may be the basis for a lawsuit alleging violation of the defendant’s right to due process.”
For example, her Kohrs talk about ice cream parties at the DA office could undermine her appearance of being independent from the DA office, McQuade noted.
“Why on earth would a grand jury associate with prosecutors?” writes McQuade. “Grand juries are independent bodies, and prosecutors are trained to maintain professional distance and avoid interactions that could be seen as influencing their decisions.
Trump’s attorneys are showing every indication that they are prepared to seize the opportunities presented to them, now or in the future.
They argued that Mr. Coles had gone too far when he explained, for example, why the special jury did not subpoena Mr. Trump to testify. Coles said the panel expected Trump would likely invoke the Fifth Amendment repeatedly, as he did when he testified last year in an investigation led by the New York Attorney General’s Office. .
Trump’s attorney, Jennifer Little, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Your comment goes too far, but also touches on what you’re forbidden to say under Georgia law, namely the deliberations. there is,” he said.
Kohrs’ Media His tour ended as abruptly as it did at the beginning. She spoke with her Associated Press, The New York Times, CNN, NBC News, Atlanta and her journal Constitution for about 48 hours. She has since gone silent amid the controversy sparked by her remarks.
Shortly after her name was first revealed by her AP her on Tuesday, Coles told her VICE News that she was too busy with other interviews to answer questions right away. After that she stopped answering the phone.