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Trump indictment in Georgia: Who is Scott McAfee, the judge presiding over the case?

ATLANTA — A Georgia judge appointed to the bench seven months ago is now presiding over one of the nation’s high-profile court cases.

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Scott McAfee, 34, appointed to the Fulton County Superior Court by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in February, was assigned the racketeering case against former President Donald Trump and 18 others last month. Prosecutors have charged that Trump and his co-defendants organized efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s slim margin of victory in Georgia during the 2020 presidential election.

On Thursday, McAfee ruled that all of the court proceedings would be livestreamed on the Fulton County Superior Court’s YouTube channel. The decision came during a hearing regarding camera use and recording permissions for the upcoming proceedings, according to WSB-TV.

The judge has previously allowed video of court proceedings to air online, including on his YouTube channel, The Washington Post reported.

McAfee was randomly assigned to the case but has worked for several key people involved in the events that swirled around Georgia after the 2020 election, The Wall Street Journal reported. They include Kemp; former U.S. Attorney Byung Pak, whom Trump forced out of office; and Fani Willis, Fulton County’s district attorney.

Here are some things to know about McAfee.

Personal life

McAfee grew up in Kennesaw, Georgia, located about 26 miles northwest of Atlanta. His parents worked for Delta Air Lines.

He studied music, playing the cello, and is an Eagle Scout, according to ABC News. McAfee currently volunteers as a scuba diver at the Georgia Aquarium and is captain of an amateur Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association team.

He lives in Atlanta, the Post reported, and is married with two children, ages 4 and 2. According to his campaign website for an election to retain his seat in 2024, Scott met his wife, Danielle, while attending law school at the University of Georgia.

Education

After graduating from North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, McAfee received a scholarship to perform as a cellist at Emory University in Atlanta, The Wall Street Journal reported. According to McAfee’s LinkedIn profile, he earned a bachelor of arts degree from Emory in 2010.

McAfee earned his law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2013, according to the Post.

While attending Georgia, McAfee was the vice president of the college’s chapter of The Federalist Society, The New York Times reported. The group has played a major role nationally in securing conservative judges appointed to the bench, including the Supreme Court.

McAfee also was the treasurer for the Law Republicans, a group that served “conservative, moderate and libertarian” law students, according to the newspaper.

Legal career

Upon graduation, McAfee became an associate attorney at the Atlanta firm of Carlock, Copeland & Stair, LLP. He spent six months at the firm, according to his biography.

According to his biography, McAfee then served as an assistant district attorney in neighboring Barrow County in the Piedmont Judicial Circuit.

McAfee joined the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in April 2015 He handled the early stages of felony cases before he was promoted to the trial division, according to the Times. The division was headed by Willis at the time, the newspaper reported.

From September 2018 until March 2021, McAfee was an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, according to his profile.

He helped prosecute Carmelo Reyes-Lozana and Bautist Toledo-Ramirez for their roles in masterminding methamphetamine deals while in prison, WSB reported. In June 2023, Reyes-Lozana was sentenced to 17 years, 6 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release, according to the television station.

Toledo-Ramirez was sentenced to 23 years in prison, followed by 12 years of supervised release, WSB reported.

On March 30, 2021, McAfee was appointed by Kemp as Georgia’s inspector general, according to a news release.

“Scott McAfee is a strong addition to my administration,” Kemp said in a statement at the time. “His experience as a tough prosecutor equips him to search out fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption, and bring those to justice who break the law.”

Judicial career

Kemp appointed McAfee to the Fulton County Superior Court on Feb. 1, 2023, to fill a vacancy on the bench, the Times reported. Most judges in Georgia are elected, and McAfee is running for a full four-year term on the bench in 2024, according to the Post. Judicial elections in Georgia are nonpartisan.

“I look forward to continuing my service as your Fulton Superior Court Judge, delivering timely justice for all,” the judge posted on his campaign website.

McAfee is the newest of the 19 judges at the Fulton County Superior Court, according to the Times.

What they’re saying

Atlanta defense attorney Tom Church called McAfee “laid back” and has brought a fresh outlook to the bench, the Post reported.

“He’s not cynical about it,” Church told the newspaper. “Overall, his reputation is that of being diligent. Because he’s relatively new, he’s going to be especially focused on getting it right and being deliberate.”

McAfee interned for Georgia Supreme Court justice Keith Blackwell in 2012. The retired judge said McAfee had a “down-to-earth” temperament and was driven by “following the law, as best he can, wherever it leads,” the Post reported.

“He’s fair, he’s smart, he listens, he’s professional, and he knows criminal law really well,” attorney E. Jay Abt told The Wall Street Journal. Abt said that McAfee’s patience will work in his favor during the trial of Trump and his co-defendants.

“If you are a patient person, you can be a good judge,” Abt told the newspaper.

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