Willis had used the same legislation in a case involving a widespread cheating scandal among public school teachers prior to her pursuit of former President Donald Trump in connection with his alleged efforts to change Georgia’s election results.
This previous use of the Racketeer Influenced, and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act may presage legal difficulties for Trump.
Surprisingly, Georgia’s RICO Act goes beyond the federal equivalent, covering various accusations based on conduct that may not be deemed criminal under federal law.
State Representative Tanya Miller and Fred Smith Jr., a distinguished Emory University law professor, support this allegation.
Willis is no stranger to the current legal situation since she applies the same RICO law she used during the big teacher cheating case.
Representative Tanya Miller, a former federal prosecutor who also worked in Fulton County, praises Willis’ knowledge of the law and notes that “enterprise is defined very broadly under Georgia law… it can be persons, legal businesses, illegal businesses, or even government agencies.”
This broad definition allows for including a wide range of organizations under racketeering.
This component of Georgia law differs significantly from its federal equivalent, allowing prosecutors a larger range of charges against anyone engaging in suspected criminal schemes.
Professor Fred Smith Jr. emphasizes the importance of this adaptability in an interview, noting, “Georgia’s RICO is particular… it isn’t just crimes that can form the basis of racketeering activity… it really can get at conduct that isn’t necessarily on its face criminal.”
This difference is critical because it permits prosecutors to target behaviors that contribute to an overall unlawful objective, even if those particular actions are not criminal in and of themselves.
The present legal procedures against Trump and his associates have been compared to Willis’ past use of the RICO law.
Professor Smith, a constitutional law specialist, discusses how Georgia’s legislation allows for acts that transcend beyond the state’s boundaries, emphasizing that “the whole point of Rico is to get at concerted action by individuals no matter where they are.”
This suggests that Georgia’s RICO legislation is well-suited to dealing with multi-state conduct claims.
Including fraudulent statements or writings as predicate conduct for racketeering is a key feature of Georgia’s RICO legislation. This legal structure might widen the range of possible allegations against Trump. In the indictment, false comments made by Trump during phone conversations with Georgia authorities, notably with the Secretary of State, are included as qualifying activities under the RICO law.
Representative Miller and Professor Smith Jr. provide insights highlighting the specific characteristics of Georgia’s RICO Act, proving its effectiveness in dealing with complicated legal circumstances.
While Fani Willis’ former use of RICO in the teacher cheating scandal went unnoticed compared to her present pursuit of Donald Trump, legal professionals, and onlookers are starting to understand the possible consequences of her prior expertise with this strong legal tactic.
Fani Willis’s legacy of using the RICO law is set to throw a large shadow over the continuing case involving the former President as the court procedures progress.