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Judge allows Nevada ‘fake electors’ to file reply after allegations of withheld evidence

The judge did not rule whether the allegations were legitimate, but said “I don’t know of any reason that I can’t” allow for a new reply.
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
CourtsElection 2020

A Clark County judge has granted a request from lawyers representing Nevada’s so-called “fake electors” to file an additional legal reply that includes evidence they say was wrongly withheld by the state and could exonerate the six individuals facing felony charges over their role in a plan to submit an invalid slate of electoral votes for former President Donald Trump in 2020. 

Lawyers representing the defendants filed motions last month accusing the state of failing to present evidence to a grand jury and in discovery to the defendants that they say could absolve the fake electors, including thousands of pages of emails and text messages that they said were only turned over to the defense after multiple requests in March.

The lawyers argued that because the evidence was allegedly unavailable when they filed their initial writ of habeas corpus — a challenge to the legality of the charges brought by the state — they should have a chance to file a reply to the state’s response to the writ. Lawyers with the attorney general’s office said the request had no legal merit and had “inaccurate” information about the state’s discovery processes. 

On Wednesday, Clark County District Court Judge Mary Kay Holthus agreed that the fake electors’ lawyers should be allowed to file a reply, saying at one point that “I don’t know of any reason that I can’t.”

Wednesday’s decision did not address the legitimacy of the allegations that the state withheld certain evidence. A hearing on the fake electors’ motion to dismiss the case and petition challenging the legality of the charges is set for June 18.

The six defendants — Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, Republican National Committeeman Jim DeGraffenreid, Clark County GOP Chairman Jesse Law, state party Vice Chair Jim Hindle, Shawn Meehan and Eileen Rice — were each indicted on two counts by a grand jury in December over their role in submitting fake election documents to federal and state election authorities purporting to cast Nevada’s six electoral votes for Trump. 

The allegedly withheld evidence hinges on emails from Kenneth Chesebro, a former Trump campaign attorney at the center of the state’s case, who said in grand jury testimony and communications from 2020 that the legal theory behind the fake elector plot relied on there being active litigation challenging the results of the 2020 election at the time of the fraudulent ceremony. 

In Nevada, the state Supreme Court had rejected the Trump campaign’s legal efforts to overturn the results of the election and subsequent appeal by Dec. 8, nearly a week before the fake electors convened in Carson City for a ceremony purporting to pledge the state’s electoral votes to Trump.

Attorneys for the fake electors had argued that the emails in question undermined the state’s arguments that there were no pending legal questions because in one of the emails (that did not include any Nevadans), Chesebro had promoted the dubious theory that the vice president could accept the alternate slates of electors in January. In another email, Chesebro had raised the possibility of another filing in the U.S. Supreme Court, which never ultimately materialized.

On Wednesday, Holthus also asked the state to provide an additional filing outlining all the reasons why Clark County is the appropriate jurisdiction for the case. While the fake elector ceremony took place in Carson City, the state has argued that two key defendants had conspired and drafted key documents in Clark County.

Prosecutors also argued that the defendants had also mailed the fraudulent electoral documents to a federal district court judge in Las Vegas. The host county of a possible jury trial matters because Clark County has a Democratic partisan lean that could possibly work against the pro-Trump defendants, while Carson City has a Republican lean. 


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