The world need look no further than Atlantan Sam Olens when it comes to explaining the recent Donald Trump indictment in Georgia accusing him of tampering with the presidential election.
Olens, now partner at Dentons law firm, is the former attorney general of Georgia, and a member of Etz Chaim Synagogue. Here, Olens elucidated his thinking and even compared some aspects of this case to the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.
Olens has been a sought-after expert in delving into the various angles of the Fulton County indictment and its future process several times on NBC/MSNBC and “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. He seeks to provide insight on Georgia law and its criminal process in a legal – as compared to – political manner.
In general, the questions from the various media organizations have centered on RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and the numerous allegations and counts referenced in the indictment.
Olens explained, “RICO, originally intended to counter organized crime, has since been applied to persons and groups, otherwise known as a criminal enterprise, who sought to commit or committed at least two acts of racketeering activity. Georgia’s RICO statute is broader than the federal act and permits a prosecutor to combine direct and indirect acts into a charge of racketeering.”
In the case of the Fulton County indictment, it references, among other things, alleged efforts to pressure executive and legislative elected officials and poll workers, preparing and making false statements, testimony, and documents (oral, written, and filed), the use of alternate electors, breaches of a voting system, and conspiracy to commit election fraud.
Olens said, “The indictment is very broad to include 19 total defendants, 30 unindicted co-conspirators and 41 criminal charges, alleged to have occurred in several locales. This is a fact pattern that can be a benefit and detriment to prosecutors and defense attorneys alike, both pretrial, during trial and on appeal.
Even if this case were tried before the November 2024 election, the subsequent appellate process will be lengthy. Two national examples of this timeline are the former House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell cases. Closer to home we can consider the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.”
Initial motions will include attempts to move the case to federal court as compared to state court, wherein it will be asserted that the alleged wrongful acts were under color of federal rather than state law, as well as to seek to dismiss the indictment entirely.
Olens sheds light, “The attempt to remove the case to federal court, with a possible jury pool of residents residing in more than 60 counties in north Georgia as compared to solely Fulton County, would still be prosecuted by the Fulton County District Attorney and still be a state criminal case.
These motions, along with numerous others, will inevitably delay the actual trial of the case, making the federal case in D.C. the probable initial case to be tried. As a president cannot pardon a conviction based on violations of state law, one benefit of the indictment in Georgia from a prosecutor’s perspective is that the convicted party must wait five years after his sentence is served before being eligible to apply for a pardon.”
In Olens’ opinion, the indictment of a former president and members of his administration, along with numerous Georgia and other out-of-state defendants alleged to have been involved in a racketeering enterprise, is too serious a legal and public occurrence to simply respond in a partisan manner with talking points in hand.
He concluded, “Noting the level of distrust of the media in general, to overtly include social media, I have sought to limit my remarks to the law and not partisan political diatribes. Thankfully, the hosts of the shows I have appeared on have fully respected my desire to limit my comments to Georgia law and the criminal process. Communications by other media to respond to political questions have not been accepted.”