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Georgia indictment of Trump immediately thrown into limbo as court caught releasing indictment before grand jury even voted

 August 16, 2023

The recent indictment against former President Trump in Georgia has come under scrutiny due to the premature release of related documents on the court's website.

This incident occurred when the Fulton County Clerk of Courts Office posted what appeared to be an indictment against former President Trump and 18 others on its website, even before the grand jury had made its decision, Fox News reported.

Controversy over Fulton County's premature document release

On Monday afternoon, the Fulton County Court’s website displayed a document. The material detailed the same charges that were later included in the official indictment against Trump that was released that night.

The charges mentioned violations of the Georgia RICO Act, solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer, conspiracy to commit filing false documents, and more.

Reuters was the first to report on this document. Shortly after, the Fulton County Court removed it from their website.

Officials then released a statement, describing the document as "fictitious." They also warned the media about treating unofficial documents as official filings.

DA's response to the situation

When questioned about the incident, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did not provide a clear explanation. She stated:

No, I can't tell you anything about what you refer to.

She continued to explain that a grand jury had convened in Fulton County and had returned an indictment after their deliberations.

However, the controversy did not end there. Trump's attorneys and allies criticized the system, leading to further clarifications from the court.

On Tuesday, the court released a detailed statement to address the confusion. They explained that a media outlet had obtained a docket sheet on August 14, 2023.

This sheet was then shared with other media outlets, leading to the premature release of the "sample working document" related to the former president.

Clarifications from the Fulton County Clerk

Ché Alexander, the Fulton County Clerk of Superior and Magistrate Courts, took immediate action upon learning of the mistake.

The document was removed, and the media was informed that the circulating document was fictitious and that no indictment had been returned by the grand jury.

The statement further clarified that Alexander had used pre-existing charges in the Odyssey system to test it.

This was done in anticipation of potential issues with entering a large indictment. Unfortunately, this test led to the appearance of an official indictment, which was merely a fictitious docket sheet.

The court emphasized that while the media can access documents before they are published, the document in question did not have an official stamp or signature. This made it unofficial and merely a test sample.

Official indictment released

Hours after the confusion, the True Bill was presented to Judge Robert McBurney. Clerk Alexander then officially filed the document, making it public shortly after. The court acknowledged the confusion this incident caused and emphasized the importance of the accuracy and transparency of court filings.

The court also stated its commitment to efficiency, accuracy, and transparency. They assured that media members would be notified of any filings in real-time and would have access to these filings.

However, questions remain. It is still unclear why the "sample working document" and the "fictitious docket sheet" had charges that matched the official indictment against the former president and 18 others.

Conclusion

  • A supposed indictment against former President Donald Trump was prematurely posted on the Fulton County Court's website.
  • The court later described this document as "fictitious" and removed it.
  • Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis did not provide a clear explanation when questioned.
  • The court released a statement explaining that the document was a "sample working document" used to test the system.
  • The official indictment was released hours after the confusion.
  • The reason for the similarity between the test document and the official indictment remains unclear.