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The Nevada Independent

Trial for Nevada ‘fake electors’ delayed until January amid scheduling challenges

The defense attorneys and state prosecutors also agreed to hold a hearing in April over the defendants’ efforts to dismiss the charges.
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
CourtsElection 2020

The trial for the six Nevada “fake electors” facing felony forgery charges over their efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election has been pushed back to 2025.

The defendants’ attorneys and state prosecutors agreed Monday to push back the jury trial — originally scheduled to start next week — to Jan. 13, 2025. District Court Judge Mary Kay Holthus also scheduled a hearing for April 22 on the defendants’ motion to dismiss the charges. Holthus originally asked for the trial to begin on Jan. 6, which the defense objected to.

The attorney representing one of the defendants, Eileen Rice, filed a motion on behalf of all of the other defendants in early February asking to reschedule the trial because they needed “additional time to review all discovery and prepare for trial.” The state did not oppose the motion.

The trial was automatically set for next week — one week after a “calendar call” to address ongoing matters, as is standard practice — but was not going to take place then because of the motion to reschedule, said Margaret McLetchie, another attorney representing a defendant, told The Nevada Independent. McLetchie said the January 2025 date was chosen to allow for enough time to prepare for trial and based on court availability.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office, which brought the charges, said the prosecution is ready for trial, but that the circumstances of the case — a likely multi-week trial with all six defendants represented by different counsel — presented scheduling challenges. The court offered up two dates in 2024 to hold the trial, but the defense asked for the January start date, which the prosecution agreed to, the spokesperson said.

A Clark County grand jury in December indicted Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald, Republican National Committeeman Jim DeGraffenreid, Clark County GOP Chair Jesse Law, state party Vice Chair Jim Hindle, Shawn Meehan and Eileen Rice on two felony charges of  false instrument for filing and uttering a forged instrument based on their conduct as “fake electors” three years ago. 

After then-candidate Joe Biden was declared the winner of Nevada’s presidential election, the six Republicans held their own symbolic ceremony in Carson City purporting to certify the state’s electoral votes for then-President Donald Trump. They sent signed documents to the National Archives and state election officials referring to themselves as the “duly elected and qualified electors,” and purported to pledge the state’s six electoral votes to Trump.

The six defendants argued in motions filed in January that prosecutors under Attorney General Aaron Ford did not sufficiently prove that their actions constituted forgery or that they tried to defraud state officials because they “did not try to create a certificate that could have been mistaken for a real one.” 

The fraudulent electors also argued that state prosecutors misled the grand jury that handed down the indictments. Kenneth Chesebro, a former Trump campaign attorney and architect of the fake elector scheme, told the grand jury that the purpose of the fake documents were in case the courts overturned Biden’s victory. The Carson City ceremony occurred six days after the Nevada Supreme Court tossed out an effort by Trump campaign lawyers to overturn Biden’s victory.  

Defendants argued in January that prosecutors had misled the grand jury by not including the fact that at the time of the Carson City ceremony, there was still ample time to challenge the Nevada Supreme Court’s ruling (the ruling was never appealed). They also argued that Chesebro did not include the six Nevada fraudulent electors in conversations about how to proceed if there was no active court challenge.

They added that Clark County — where the charges were filed and court proceedings have been held — was not an appropriate venue because the charges relate to conduct that occurred in Carson City.

Last month, the attorney general’s office filed arguments rebutting those arguments. It said the conduct should still be considered fraudulent even if state officials were not deceived, writing that it “amounts to an argument that because the defendants were not especially skilled forgers, they can’t properly be convicted of these charges.”

State prosecutors also said that because the Nevada Supreme Court had already ruled against overturning the election results, then the fraudulent electors would have known that their signed certificates were false.

In addition, the prosecution said Clark County was an appropriate place for court proceedings because two defendants — McDonald and Law — conspired and drafted key documents related to the scheme while they were still in Clark County. Defendants had also mailed the fraudulent documents to a federal district court judge in Las Vegas.

This story was updated on 3/4/24 at 12:25 p.m. to include information about the prosecution's reason for the trial change. It was updated again on 3/4/24 at 1:50 p.m. to include a statement from the attorney general's office.


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