Authors Mike Dunford

7 days 30 days All time Recent Popular
OK. The Teams meeting that I unsuccessfully evaded (and which was actually a lot of fun and I'm really genuinely happy I was reminded to attend) is over, so let's take another swing at looking at the latest filings from in re Gondor.

As far as I can tell from the docket, this is the FOURTH attempt in a week to get a TRO; the question the judge will ask if they ever figure out how to get the judge's attention will be "couldn't you have served by now;" and this whole thing is a

The memorandum in support of this one is 9 pages, and should go pretty quick.

But they still haven't figured out widow/orphan issues.

It appears that the opening of this particular filing is going to proceed on the theme of "we are big mad at @SollenbergerRC" which is totally something relevant when you are asking a District Court to temporarily annihilate the US Government on an ex parte basis.

Also, if they didn't want their case to be known as "in re Gondor" they really shouldn't have gone with the (non-literary) "Gondor has no king" quote.
Good afternoon, followers of frivolous election litigation. There's a last-minute entry in the competition for dumbest pre-inauguration lawsuit - a totally loony effort to apparently leave the entire USA without a government.

We'll start with the complaint in a minute.

But first, I want to give you a quick explanation for why I'm going to keep talking about these cases even after the inauguration.

They're part of an ongoing effort - one that's not well-coordinated but is widespread - to discredit our fundamental system of government.

It's a direct descendent, in more ways than one, of birtherism. And here's the thing about birtherism. It might have been a joke to a lot of people, but it was extremely pernicious. It obviously validated the racist "not good enough to be President" crowd. But that wasn't all.

Don't get me wrong, that was bad enough. Validating racism helped put the kind of shitbird who would tweet this from an official government account into power. But it didn't stop

(Also, if you agree with Pompeo about multiculturalism - the legendary melting pot - not being what this country is all about, you need to stop following me now. And maybe go somewhere and think about your life choices and what made you such a tool.)
Election Litigation Update: DC - the "let's sue the Electoral College" case.

This is a bit surprising, given that as of last time I checked nobody had been served and no appearance had been entered. I suspect it's an effort to make sure the case isn't "pending" on the 6th.

And, sure enough, still no proof of service on ANY defendant, still no appearance from defense counsel. And this is denying the motion for preliminary injunction but does NOT dismiss the case - which is potentially ominous for plaintiff's counsel.

This isn't a "happy judge" kind of first paragraph. Not even a little bit. Nope.

Y'all, this isn't even directed within a few hundred miles of my direction and I sill just instinctively checked to make sure that there's room for me to hide under my desk if I have to - this is a very not happy, very federal, very judge tone.

Also - the judge just outright said there's a bunch of reasons for dismissal. And not in "might be" terms. In definite fact ones. But the case isn't dismissed yet.

If I was plaintiffs counsel, I'd definitely be clearing under my desk right now, and possibly also my underwear.
Happy Monday! Dominion Voting Systems is suing Rudy Giuliani for $1.3 billion.

As Akiva notes, the legal question is going to boil down to something known as "actual malice."

That's a tricky concept for nonlawyers (and often for lawyers) so an explainer might help.

What I'm going to do with this thread is a bit different from normal - I'm going to start by explaining the underlying law so that you can see why lawyers are a little skeptical of the odds of success, and only look at the complaint after that.

So let's start with the most basic basics:
If you want to win a defamation case, you have to prove:
(1) that defendant made a false and defamatory statement about you;
(2) to a third party without privilege;
(3) with the required degree of fault;
(4) causing you to suffer damage.

For Dominion's defamation cases, proving 1 and 4 is easy. 2 is, in the case of the lawyers they're suing, slightly more complex but not hard. And 3 - degree of fault - is really really hard to prove.

A false statement of fact that is defamatory is a slam dunk element here - all the fraud allegations against dominion are totally banana-pants. They are also allegations which are clearly going to harm Dominion's reputation.
I went over the dismissal on my stream, but a few thoughts on where things are at:

1: The Notice of Appeal doesn't shock me; I figured Louie would be this dumb.
2: As was the case with the case at the District Court, it doesn't really matter how vigorously Pence defends this.

3: The lack of standing is so spectacularly, glaringly obvious that it doesn't really matter whether Pence raised certain arguments; they will get noticed by the court.
4: That's because federal courts have an independent duty to ensure they have jurisdiction.

5: Standing is a jurisdictional requirement; no standing means no case.
6: The rules for standing are clear and nothing in the opinion dismissing the case was the least bit controversial in any universe except the alternate one inhabited by Louie and the Arizonan cosplayers.

7: "But it's the 5th Circuit" will be raised both by Trumpistians and those who are exceptionally nervous. There is exactly as much reason to be concerned about the 5th as there was the trial court: ie none at all.

So - my expectations:
Given the timeline, I suspect that Louie will be granted an expedited appeal and will lose on an expedited basis. I also expect that he will appeal to SCOTUS and the appeal there will not be expedited.
Yes, I have seen the thing about Texas suing other states over the election. Yes, the US Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases between states.

No, this is not a thing that will change the election. At all.

If this is real - and I do emphasize the if - it is posturing by the elected Republican "leadership" of Texas in an attempt to pander to a base that has degraded from merely deplorable to utterly despicable.

Apparently, it is real. For a given definition of real, anyway. As Steve notes, the Texas Solicitor General - that's the lawyer who is supposed to represent the state in cases like this - has noped out and the AG is counsel of

Although - again - I'm curious as to the source. I'm seeing no press release on the Texas AG's site; I'm wondering if this might not be a document released by whoever the "special counsel" to the AG is - strange situation.

Doesn't matter. The Supreme Court is Supremely Unlikely to take this case - their jurisdiction is exclusive, but it's also discretionary.

Meaning, for nonlawyers:
SCOTUS is the only place where one state can sue another, but SCOTUS can and often does decline to take the case.
I've been trying to think that through - not just legally, but judicially.

The more thinking I do the less serious - and more ludicrous - the entire thing looks. And the more obvious it becomes that this is the proposal of deeply unwell individuals who are not thinking clearly.

On the legal side, I read through the list of emergency powers - the whole list - that was assembled by the Brennan Center. Nothing on that list fits. Nothing comes even

It seems extraordinarily unlikely that any executive order along the lines of what has been discussed would be legal. In this case, it can be taken as a given that one or more targeted jurisdictions would dash right off to the courthouse.

Standing would not, it should go without saying, be likely to be an issue. I doubt redressability would either. I think it's very likely that restraining orders and injunctions would be swiftly issued.

That's the legal side, to the extent it's possible to speculate on that at all at this point. Basically, there's no readily apparent legal basis for such a thing, so it probably wouldn't be legal.

That's the easy part. Now for the nuttier side - the logistics.
This is an excellent question, and it's something that I've thought about some over the last couple of months.

Honestly, I think the answer is that the rationales for these rulings are not likely to unreasonably harm meritorious progressive OR conservative challenges.

The first thing to keep in mind is that, by design, challenges to the outcomes of elections are supposed to be heard by state courts, through the process set out in state law.

That happened this year, and the majority of those challenges were heard on the merits.

The couple of cases where laches determined the outcome of state election challenges were ones where it was pretty clear that the challenges were brought in bad faith - where ballots cast in good faith in reliance on laws that had been in force for some time were challenged.

The PA challenge to Act 77 is one example. The challengers, some of whom had voted for passage of the bill, didn't make use of the initial, direct-to-PA-SCt challenge built into the law or sue pre-election; they waited until post-election.

The WI case is another. That one had a challenge to ballots cast using a form that had been in use for a literal decade.

Those are cases where laches is clear - particularly the prejudice element.
Election Litigation Thread - Georgia:
OK, so since my attempt to sit back while Akiva does all the work of going through the latest proof that not only the pro se have fools for lawyers has backfired, let's take a stroll through the motion for injunctive relief.

At the start, I'd note that the motion does not appear to be going anywhere fast - despite the request that they made over 80 hours ago to have the motion heard within 48 hours.

The most recent docket entries are all routine start-of-case stuff.

Why isn't it going anywhere quickly? Allow me to direct your attention to something that my learned colleague Mr. Cohen said

Now I'm not a litigator, but if I had an emergency thing that absolutely had to be heard over a holiday weekend, I'd start by reading the relevant part of the local rules for the specific court in which I am filing my case.

In this case, this bit, in particular, seems relevant:

My next step, if I had any uncertainty at all, would be to find and use the court's after-hours emergency contact info. I might have to work some to find it, but it'll be there. Emergencies happen; there are procedures for them.

And then I'd do exactly what they tell me to do.