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Trump Campaign Botches Appeal of Michigan Judge’s Ruling on ‘Inadmissible Hearsay within Hearsay’


Over the weekend, the Trump campaign promised major revelations in their legal efforts to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, but their lawyers stumbled out of the gate on Monday morning.

The Trump lawyers submitted a “defective” appeal of a Michigan judge’s ruling that dismissed their lawsuit. The judge found last week that the lawsuit contained “inadmissible hearsay within hearsay.”

“I regret to inform you that your submission is defective,” the Trump campaign was informed in a one-page letter, alerting them that their lawyers forgot to attach a copy of the judgment and the underlying evidence.

Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor and CNN analyst, called the mix-up an “embarrassing error but pretty minor.”

“Lawyers have paralegals and junior lawyers make filings all the time so these things happen,” Rodgers told Law&Crime in a text message. “But of course the broader point is this is not a sophisticated legal team the way you would expect from a presidential campaign. Long ago Trump ran through the top notch lawyers willing to work for him, so he’s working with lower-tier representation for sure.”

The technical error by the campaign’s attorney Thor Hearne marked an anti-climactic opening shot of a quixotic effort to prevent Joe Biden from assuming the office of the presidency on Inauguration Day.

It also represented a strained effort to a revive a legal action based on testimony by what poll watcher Jessica Connarn claims to have heard from an unidentified person who repeated a rumor and passed her a note.

“‘I heard someone else say something,’” Michigan Judge Cynthia Stephens said on Thursday, summing up Connarn’s affidavit. “Tell me how that is not hearsay. Come on now!”

Stephens elaborated on that exclamation in a written ruling the next day.

“The assertion that Connarn was informed by an unknown individual what ‘other hired poll workers at her table’ had been told is inadmissible hearsay within hearsay, and plaintiffs have provided no hearsay exception for either level of hearsay that would warrant consideration of the evidence,” the judge wrote.

Hearne glossed over the hearsay issue entirely in his appellate motion, focusing his fire entirely on Michigan’s Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, whom he falsely claimed prevented Republicans from observing the counts.

“Secretary Benson’s actions and her failure to act have undermined the constitutional right of all Michigan voters – including the credentialed and qualified challenger bringing this action – to participate in fair and lawful elections,” Hearne wrote in a four-page motion.

Michigan election authorities have backed up Benson in saying all parties have been given a chance to observe, Fox News reported.

Read the notification of the defective appeal below:

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."