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Arizona Supreme Court upholds election challenge dismissal
Law Firm News | 2021/01/06 19:48
The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court decision dismissing the last in a series of challenges that sought to decerify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

The high court ruling is the second time the majority-Republican court has turned aside an appeal of a court loss by backers of President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the results of the election. In all, eight lawsuits challenging Biden’s Arizona win have failed. It comes the day before a divided Congress is set to certify Biden’s victory.

Tuesday’s ruling from a four-judge panel of the high court agreed with a trial court judge in Pinal County that plaintiff Staci Burk lacked the right to contest the election. That’s because she wasn’t a registered voter at the time she filed her lawsuit, as required in state election contests. Both courts also agreed that she made her legal challenge too late, after the five-day period for filing such an action had passed.

Burk said in her lawsuit that she was a qualified Arizona voter, but officials said they discovered she wasn’t registered to vote. She later said she mistakenly thought “qualified electors” were people who were merely eligible to vote, and that her voter registration was canceled because election workers were unable to verify her address.

The Supreme Court said the fact that she wasn’t a registered voter was fatal to her ability to file an election challenge and that Burk admitted she knew she wasn’t registered.

“There is nothing before the Court to indicate that Appellant timely contacted the appropriate authorities to correct any problems with her voter registration,” Chief Justice Robert Brutinel wrote. “An election challenge ... is not the proper vehicle to reinstate voter registration.”

Biden won the state over Republican President Donald Trump by more than 10,000 votes and the results were certified last month.

The lawsuit brought by Burk, who isn’t a lawyer but represented herself, is nearly identical to a lawsuit dismissed in early December in federal court in Phoenix.

Burk’s lawsuit alleged Arizona’s election systems have security flaws that let election workers and foreign countries manipulate results. Opposing attorneys said the lawsuit used conspiracy theories to make allegations against a voting equipment vendor without any proof to back up claims of widespread election fraud in Arizona.

No evidence of voter or election fraud has emerged in Arizona. Despite that, Republicans who control the Legislature are pushing to review how Maricopa County, the state’s most populous, ran its election. Two subpoenas issued by the state Senate seeking an audit and to review voting machines, ballots and other materials are being challenged by Maricopa County.

Two of the failed legal challenges focused on the use of Sharpies to complete ballots were dismissed. Another lawsuit in which the Trump campaign sought inspection of ballots was dismissed after the campaign’s lawyer acknowledged the small number of ballots at issue wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

A judge dismissed a lawsuit in which the Arizona Republican Party tried to determine whether voting machines had been hacked.

Then a separate challenge by Arizona GOP Chairwoman Kelli Ward was tossed out by a judge who concluded the Republican leader failed to prove fraud and that the evidence presented at trial wouldn’t reverse Trump’s defeat. The state Supreme Court upheld that decision in an earlier ruling.

And a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by conservative lawyer Sidney Powell, who alleged widespread election fraud through the manipulation of voting equipment. Burk’s lawsuit repeated some of Powell’s allegations word-for-word.


Giuliani shows at Trump camp lawsuit hearing in Pennsylvania
Law Firm News | 2020/11/18 04:13
A hearing on the Trump campaign’s federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Pennsylvania officials from certifying the vote results was set to begin Tuesday after a judge denied the campaign’s new lawyer’s request for a delay.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and the president’s personal attorney, entered the federal courthouse in Williamsport to cheers across the street from several dozen supporters of President Donald Trump.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann had told lawyers for Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and the counties and state election official it has sued that they must show up and “be prepared for argument and questioning” at the federal courthouse.

Giuliani filed Tuesday morning to represent Trump in the case. He has not entered an appearance in federal court since 1992, according to online court records. That was the year before he was elected mayor.

The Trump campaign wants to prevent certification of results that give President-elect Joe Biden the state’s 20 electoral votes, suing over election procedures that were not uniform across the state. Giuliani has promised a raft of lawsuits and to provide Trump with evidence of voter fraud in the drive to overturn the election result.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, has asked to have the lawsuit thrown out, calling its allegations in court filings “at best, garden-variety irregularities.”

Brann scheduled the hearing to discuss the campaign’s request for a temporary restraining order as well as the defendants’ request to have the case dismissed.

After Pittsburgh lawyers dropped out of representing Trump’s campaign on Friday, Philadelphia election lawyer Linda Kerns and two Texas lawyers also filed to withdraw Monday.

Camp Hill lawyer Mark Scaringi, a losing candidate in the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary, notified the judge he was stepping in but did not get the delay he sought.

The Associated Press has declared Biden the winner of the presidential contest, but Trump has refused to concede and is blocking Biden’s efforts toward a smoother transition of power. With Georgia the only uncalled state, Biden has collected at least 290 electoral votes ? just enough that overturning Pennsylvania’s result would not open an avenue to a second term for Trump.

Biden’s margin in Pennsylvania is now more than 73,000 votes.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and experts say Trump’s various lawsuits have no chance of reversing the outcome in a single state, let alone the election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well, and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.

The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.


Election 2020 Today: No winner yet, Trump’s court threat
Law Firm News | 2020/11/06 20:06
NO WINNER: President Donald Trump carried the prized battleground of Florida, then he and Democrat Joe Biden shifted their focus to three Northern industrial states ? Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania ? that could prove crucial in determining who wins the White House. A late burst of votes in Wisconsin from Milwaukee gave Biden a small lead, but the state remained too early to call early Wednesday. Michigan and Pennsylvania also remained too early to call with hundreds of thousands of outstanding votes in both states.

COURT CHALLENGE: Trump says he’ll take the presidential election to the Supreme Court, but it’s unclear what he means in a country in which vote tabulations routinely continue beyond Election Day and states largely set the rules for when the count has to end. Trump says “we want all voting to stop,” but the voting is over. It’s only counting that is taking place across the nation. No state will count absentee votes that are postmarked after Election Day. Biden’s campaign called Trump’s statement “outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect.”

STATUS QUO: Their hopes fading for Senate control, Democrats had a disappointing election night as Republicans swatted down an onslaught of challengers and fought to retain their majority. Several races remained undecided, and at least one headed to a runoff in January. It was a jarring outcome for Democrats, who had devised an expanded political map, eager to provide a backstop against Trump and his party’s grip on the Senate. The voters’ choices will force a rethinking of Democratic Party strategy, messaging and approach from the Trump era.

HOUSE CONTROL: Democrats are driving toward extending their control of the House for two more years but with a potentially shrunken majority. They have lost six incumbents and failed to oust any Republican lawmakers in initial returns. The only gains for Democrats have been two North Carolina seats vacated by GOP incumbents after a court-ordered remapping. Though Democrats seem likely to retain House control, the results have been disappointing for the party, which had hoped to make modest gains of perhaps 15 seats.

BALLOT MEASURES: A nationwide push to relax drug laws took a significant step forward. Voters in Arizona and New Jersey added their states to the list of places legalizing marijuana for adults. And Oregon became the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Louisiana voters approved an amendment saying there is no state constitutional right to abortion, but Colorado voters defeated abortion limitations. Florida voters approved a measure to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. And Mississippi voters approved a new flag.

QUOTABLE: “We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court ? we want all voting to stop.” ? Trump declared even though voting had ended and it’s only counting that is taking place across the nation.


Legal armies ready if cloudy election outcome heads to court
Law Firm News | 2020/11/02 20:45
Signature matches. Late-arriving absentee votes. Drop boxes. Secrecy envelopes. Democratic and Republican lawyers already have gone to court over these issues in the run-up to Tuesday’s election. But the legal fights could take on new urgency, not to mention added vitriol, if a narrow margin in a battleground state is the difference between another four years for President Donald Trump or a Joe Biden administration.

Both sides say they’re ready, with thousands of lawyers on standby to march into court to make sure ballots get counted, or excluded.  Since the 2000 presidential election, which was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court, both parties have enlisted legal teams to prepare for the unlikely event that voting wouldn’t settle the contest. But this year, there is a near presumption that legal fights will ensue and that only a definitive outcome is likely to forestall them.

The candidates and parties have enlisted prominent lawyers with ties to Democratic and Republican administrations. A Pennsylvania case at the Supreme Court pits Donald Verrilli, who was President Barack Obama’s top Supreme Court lawyer, against John Gore, a onetime high-ranking Trump Justice Department official.

It’s impossible to know where, or even if, a problem affecting the ultimate result will arise. But existing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Minnesota and Nevada offer some hint of the states most likely to be ground zero in a post-election battle and the kinds of issues that could tie the outcome in knots.

Roughly 300 lawsuits already have been filed over the election in dozens of states across the country, many involving changes to normal procedures because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 230,000 people in the U.S. and sickened more than 9 million.

Most of the potential legal challenges are likely to stem from the huge increase in absentee balloting brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. In Pennsylvania, elections officials won’t start processing those ballots until Election Day, and some counties have said they won’t begin counting those votes until the following day. Mailed ballots that don’t come inside a secrecy envelope have to be discarded, under a state Supreme Court ruling.

“I still can’t figure how counting and verifying absentee ballots is going to go in some of the battleground states like Pennsylvania,” said Ohio State University law professor Edward Foley, an election law expert.

The deadline for receiving and counting absentee ballots is Friday, an extension ordered by the Pennsylvania’s top court. The Supreme Court left that order in place in response to a Republican effort to block it. But several conservative justices indicated they’d be open to taking the issue up after the election, especially if those late-arriving ballots could mean the difference in the state.


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