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Verdicts & Settlements

Michigan Judge Dismisses Trump Campaign Lawsuit

— November 6, 2020

A Michigan judged has dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit to temporarily halt ballot counting in Michigan.

As LegalReader reported earlier this week, the suit was one of several that President Trump’s re-election campaign filed against hotly contested states, including Michigan, Nevada, and Georgia. In Michigan, the commander-in-chief alleged irregularities in the vote count and has asked a state court to halt ballot counts until more Republican poll-watchers could observe the process.

According to The Detroit Free Press, Thor Hearne—an attorney for the Trump campaign—filed the complaint Wednesday night. Hearne had hoped a court would grant an order requiring Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to provide “meaningful access” to poll observers, as well as access to videotaped surveillance of ballot drop boxes.

However, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens dismissed the suit. In her ruling, Stephens noted that ballot counting in the state was finished by Thursday morning. Consequently, Hearne’s request for “meaningful access” was rendered moot.

Stephens also said that a previous lawsuit had made many of the same requests—and that Secretary of State Benson had, in fact, issued a directive calling for more poll watchers.

So far as surveillance tapes go, Stephens stated that the Trump campaign failed to make any compelling argument as to why it should be entitled to video recordings.

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

“I have no basis to find that there’s a substantial likelihood of success based on the merits as it relates to this defendant, nor am I convinced that there is a clear legal duty on the part of anyone who is promptly before this court to manage this issue,” Stephens wrote.

The Detroit News says that a similar lawsuit, also filed by the Trump campaign, was dismissed in Georgia.

But the campaign’s continuing defeat in courtrooms across the country has not dissuaded President Trump from repeatedly claiming that Democrats are employing fraud and subterfuge to steal the election.

“Detroit and Philadelphia, known as two of the most corrupt political places anywhere in our country, easily, cannot be responsible for engineering the outcome of a presidential race,” Trump said.

One way or another, Democratic attorneys have said that Trump’s efforts to litigate against left-leaning states are completely out of context in Michigan. Kevin Hamilton, counsel for the Democratic National Committee, told the Detroit News that Michigan’s election system is run by more than 1,500 clerks, each of whom run their own elections, count their own ballots, and report results independently. As such, naming Benson as a defendant did not make particularly much sense.

Hamilton further said that Trump’s lawsuit amounted to little more than an “effort to stop the counting of ballots cast by Michigan voters who were fully entitled to vote.”


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