Georgia high court rejects latest Trump election appeal

Lawyer Blog Post 2020/12/14 11:38   Bookmark and Share
President Donald Trump has lost his latest legal challenge seeking to overturn Georgia’s election results, with the state Supreme Court’s rejection late Saturday of a case from Trump’s campaign and Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer.

The suit - similar to other Trump team legal challenges, which made baseless allegations of widespread fraud in Georgia’s presidential election - was initially filed Dec. 4, then rejected by the Fulton County Superior Court because the paperwork was improperly completed and it lacked the appropriate filing fees.

The case was subsequently appealed directly to the state Supreme Court, asking justices to consider the case before Monday’s meeting of the Electoral College. In a brief order, justices wrote that “petitioners have not shown that this is one of those extremely rare cases that would invoke our original jurisdiction.”

It’s the latest legal setback in the president’s efforts to overturn the election results. On Friday  the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit backed by Trump seeking to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory, a move that ended a desperate attempt to get legal issues rejected by state and federal judges before the nation’s highest court.

Even as lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies have been rejected around the country, the president has continued to make repeated baseless claims of widespread fraud. In Georgia, he has rained criticism on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both fellow Republicans.

Raffensperger has been steadfast in his defense of the integrity of the election in the state, and Kemp has said he has no power to intervene in elections.

Results certified by Raffensperger last month showed that Biden led by a margin of 12,670 votes, or 0.25% of the roughly 5 million ballots cast. An audit involving a hand count of the paper ballots also showed Biden won.

Last week, Raffensberger again recertified the state’s election results after a recount requested by Trump confirmed once again that Biden won the state, and the governor then recertified the state’s 16 presidential electors.

“We have now counted legally cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged,” Raffensperger said during a news conference at the state Capitol.
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Georgia high court rejects latest Trump election appeal

Court News 2020/12/12 11:28   Bookmark and Share
President Donald Trump has lost his latest legal challenge seeking to overturn Georgia’s election results, with the state Supreme Court’s rejection late Saturday of a case from Trump’s campaign and Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer.

The suit - similar to other Trump team legal challenges, which made baseless allegations of widespread fraud in Georgia’s presidential election - was initially filed Dec. 4, then rejected by the Fulton County Superior Court because the paperwork was improperly completed and it lacked the appropriate filing fees.

The case was subsequently appealed directly to the state Supreme Court, asking justices to consider the case before Monday’s meeting of the Electoral College. In a brief order, justices wrote that “petitioners have not shown that this is one of those extremely rare cases that would invoke our original jurisdiction.”

It’s the latest legal setback in the president’s efforts to overturn the election results. On Friday  the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit backed by Trump seeking to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s election victory, a move that ended a desperate attempt to get legal issues rejected by state and federal judges before the nation’s highest court.

Even as lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies have been rejected around the country, the president has continued to make repeated baseless claims of widespread fraud. In Georgia, he has rained criticism on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both fellow Republicans.

Raffensperger has been steadfast in his defense of the integrity of the election in the state, and Kemp has said he has no power to intervene in elections.

Results certified by Raffensperger last month showed that Biden led by a margin of 12,670 votes, or 0.25% of the roughly 5 million ballots cast. An audit involving a hand count of the paper ballots also showed Biden won.

Last week, Raffensberger again recertified the state’s election results after a recount requested by Trump confirmed once again that Biden won the state, and the governor then recertified the state’s 16 presidential electors.

“We have now counted legally cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged,” Raffensperger said during a news conference at the state Capitol.
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Wisconsin Supreme Court tosses Trump election lawsuit

Headline Legal News 2020/12/12 11:27   Bookmark and Share
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday rejected President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, ending Trump's legal challenges in state court about an hour before the Electoral College was to meet to cast the state's 10 votes for Biden.

The ruling came after the court held arguments Saturday, the same day a federal judge dismissed another Trump lawsuit seeking to overturn his loss in the state. Trump appealed that ruling.

Trump sought to have more than 221,000 ballots disqualified in Dane and Milwaukee counties, the state's two most heavily Democratic counties. He wanted to disqualify absentee ballots cast early and in-person, saying there wasn’t a proper written request made for the ballots; absentee ballots cast by people who claimed “indefinitely confined” status; absentee ballots collected by poll workers at Madison parks; and absentee ballots where clerks filled in missing information on ballot envelopes.

Liberal Justice Jill Karofsky blasted Trumps' case during Saturday's hearing, saying it “smacks of racism” and was “un-American.” Conservative justices voiced some concerns about how certain ballots were cast, while also questioning whether they could or should disqualify votes only in two counties.

Biden won Wisconsin by about 20,600 votes, a margin of 0.6% that withstood a Trump-requested recount in Milwaukee and Dane counties, the two with the most Democratic votes. Trump did not challenge any ballots cast in the counties he won.

Trump and his allies have suffered dozens of defeats in Wisconsin and across the country in lawsuits that rely on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud and election abuse. On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Texas lawsuit that sought to invalidate Biden’s win by throwing out millions of votes in four battleground states, including Wisconsin.
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High court rejects GOP bid to halt Biden’s Pennsylvania win

Court News 2020/12/09 16:41   Bookmark and Share
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Republicans’ last-gasp bid to reverse Pennsylvania’s certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the electoral battleground.

The court without comment refused to call into question the certification process in Pennsylvania. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf already has certified Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump and the state’s 20 electors are to meet on Dec. 14 to cast their votes for Biden.

In any case, Biden won 306 electoral votes, so even if Pennsylvania’s results had been in doubt, he still would have more than the 270 electoral votes needed to become president. The court’s decision not to intervene came in a lawsuit led by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northeastern Pennsylvania and GOP congressional candidate and Trump favorite Sean Parnell, who lost to Pittsburgh-area U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, a Democrat.

“Even Trump appointees & Republicans saw this for what it was: a charade,” Lamb said on Twitter.

In court filings, lawyers for Pennsylvania and Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, had called the lawsuit’s claims “fundamentally frivolous” and its request “one of the most dramatic, disruptive invocations of judicial power in the history of the Republic.”

“No court has ever issued an order nullifying a governor’s certification of presidential election results,” they wrote.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas had offered to argue the case, if the high court took it.

Having lost the request for the court to intervene immediately, Greg Teufel, a lawyer for Kelly and Parnell, said he will file a separate request to ask the court to consider the case on its underlying merits on an expedited basis.

Still, hopes for immediate intervention concerning the Nov. 3 election “substantially dimmed” with the court’s action Tuesday, Teufel said.

“But by no way is this over,” Kelly said on Fox News. Republicans had pleaded with the justices to intervene immediately after the state Supreme Court turned away their case last week.

The Republicans argued that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. Just one Republican state lawmaker voted against its passage last year in Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature.

Biden beat Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats.

The state’s high court said the plaintiffs waited too long to file the challenge and noted the Republicans’ staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively.

In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly, Parnell and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors.
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High court to decide whether Nazi art case stays in US court

Legal Business 2020/12/06 16:15   Bookmark and Share
Jed Leiber was an adult before he learned that his family was once part-owner of a collection of centuries-old religious artworks now said to be worth at least $250 million.

Over a steak dinner at a New York City restaurant in the 1990s he had asked his mother about his grandfather, a prominent art dealer who fled Germany after Adolf Hitler came to power. “What was grandpa most proud of in his business?” he asked.

“He was very, very proud to have acquired the Guelph Treasure, and then was forced to sell it to the Nazis,” she told him. That conversation set Leiber, of West Hollywood, California, on a decadeslong mission to reclaim some 40 pieces of the Guelph Treasure on display in a Berlin museum. It’s a pursuit that has now landed him at the Supreme Court, in a case to be argued Monday.

For centuries, the collection, called the Welfenschatz in German, was owned by German royalty. It includes elaborate containers used to store Christian relics; small, intricate altars and ornate crosses. Many are silver or gold and decorated with gems.

In 2015, Leiber’s quest for the collection led to a lawsuit against Germany and the the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The state-run foundation owns the collection and runs Berlin’s Museum of Decorative Arts, where the collection is housed. Germany and the foundation asked the trial-level court to dismiss the suit, but the court declined. An appeals court also kept the suit alive.

Now, the Supreme Court, which has been hearing arguments by telephone because of the coronavirus pandemic, will weigh in. A separate case involving Hungarian Holocaust victims is being heard the same day.

At this point, the Guelph Treasure case is not about whether Leiber’s grandfather and the two other Frankfurt art dealer firms that joined to purchase the collection in 1929 were forced to sell it, a claim Germany and the foundation dispute. It’s just about whether Leiber and two other heirs of those dealers, New Mexico resident Alan Philipp and London resident Gerald Stiebel, can continue seeking the objects’ return in U.S. courts.

In a statement, Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, argued that the suit should be dismissed. The foundation and Germany have the Trump administration’s support.
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Cosby’s sex assault conviction goes before high-level court

Court News 2020/12/01 16:46   Bookmark and Share
Pennsylvania’s highest court questioned Tuesday whether Bill Cosby’s alleged history of intoxicating and sexually assaulting young women amounted to a signature crime pattern, given studies that show as many as half of all sexual assaults involve drugs or alcohol. Cosby, 83, hopes to overturn his 2018 sex assault conviction because the judge let prosecutors call five other accusers who said Cosby mistreated them the same way he did his victim, Andrea Constand. The defense said their testimony prejudiced the jury against the actor and should not have been allowed.

“That conduct you describe ? the steps, the young women ? there’s literature that says that’s common to 50% of these assaults ? thousands of assaults ? nationwide,” Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor said during oral arguments in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. “So how can that be a common scheme?”

The prosecutor, in response, offered more precise details about the relationships, saying Cosby used his fame and fortune to mentor the women and then took advantage of it. And he sometimes befriended their mothers or families.

“There was a built-in level of trust because of his status in the entertainment industry and because he held himself out as a public moralist,” said Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, of suburban Philadelphia’s Montgomery County, where Constand says she was assaulted at Cosby’s estate in 2004.

“The signature was isolating and intoxicating young women for the purpose of sexually assaulting them,” Jappe said.

Cosby, 83, has served more than two years of his three- to 10-year prison sentence for drugging and molesting Constand, whom he met through the basketball program at his alma mater, Temple University.

Courts have long wrestled with decisions about when other accusers should be allowed to testify in criminal cases. It’s generally not allowed, but exceptions are allowed to show a signature crime pattern or to prove someone’s identity. The state’s high court appears eager to address the issue, and in doing so took on the first celebrity criminal case of the #MeToo era. The court typically takes several months to issue its opinion.

Judge Steven T. O’Neill had allowed just one other accuser to testify at Cosby’s first trial in 2017, when the jury could not reach a verdict. The #MeToo movement took hold months later with media reports about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other men accused of sexual misconduct.
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