Michigan Court Seeking More Documents for Trump Campaign Appeal of GOP Observer Case

Michigan Court Seeking More Documents for Trump Campaign Appeal of GOP Observer Case
Absentee ballots are processed at the central counting board in Detroit, Mich., on Nov. 4, 2020. (Carlos Osorio/AP Photo)
Isabel van Brugen

The Michigan Court of Appeals on Nov. 9 said that Trump campaign attorneys need to submit more documents if they want their appeal over a GOP observer lawsuit to be considered, rejecting an appeal submitted last week.

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign filed the appeal on Nov. 6 after Michigan Judge Cynthia Stephens denied a request seeking “meaningful access” to view the handling of absentee ballots.
Stephens said on Nov. 5 that the lawsuit was filed around 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, just hours before the last ballots were counted. The judge also noted that Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was the wrong person to sue because she doesn’t control the logistics of local ballot counting, even if she is the state’s chief election officer.

In the case, the Trump campaign sought to halt counting in the state until “meaningful access” was granted to oversee the fair handling of absentee ballots. The campaign claimed that Benson was allowing absentee ballots to be counted without teams of bipartisan observers as well as challengers. They accused her of undermining the “constitutional right of all Michigan voters … to participate in fair and lawful elections.”

“These Michigan citizens’ constitutional rights are being violated by Secretary Benson’s failure to prevent unlawful ballots to be processed and her failure to ensure that statutorily-authorized challengers have a right to do their job,” the lawsuit (pdf) stated.

Benson denied the allegations.

The appeal argues that as the certification and review of the election results is still ongoing, the case should not have been dismissed by the Court of Claims.

“Immediate consideration is necessary because this case concerns the process by which Michigan is conducting the ongoing presidential election,” the attorneys wrote. “The results of the election in Michigan may determine who wins the presidential election nationwide.”

The Michigan appeals court however asked the Trump campaign to refile their case, saying the appeal was incomplete and needed more paperwork.

“Unless the above is filed within 21 days of the date of this letter, your case may be dismissed for failure to pursue the case in conformity with the rules,” a letter from the Michigan Court of Appeals to Trump’s team read.

According to the letter, the initial filing is missing copies of the judge’s order, the lower court docket or register of actions, a transcript of the lower court hearing, and extra copies of a brief and of a transcript or evidence that a transcript has been ordered.

Thor Hearne, an attorney representing the Trump campaign in the state, said the paperwork wasn’t included in the initial motion to appeal because it was filed shortly after the Court of Claims dismissed their case.

The missing documents will be filed “as soon as they come into our possession,” Hearne said, noting that he is confident the Court of Claims ruling would be overturned by the Court of Appeals.

“In a normal appeal process, whether it be in Michigan or any other court, you have to build the appellate record,” he said. "In election litigation, you’re trying to do that on steroids and have it done in 12 hours. And that means sometimes you don’t have the documents immediately.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.

Janita Kan contributed to this report.
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
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