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Rudy Giuliani’s Ludicrous ‘Second Amendment Complaint’ in Pennsylvania Was as Bad as It Gets


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Okay, so the last time Rudy Giuliani practiced actual law in federal court was the early 1990s, and he’s a little rusty. Still, some things really should be hard-wired by your sixth decade as an attorney. Giuliani is trying again to fix up Team Trump’s complaint filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania to somehow, someway save the election for Donald Trump, and it’s … not going well.

The first time Team Trump changed its Complaint, it removed many of the more significant allegations. Then they claimed on Twitter that they didn’t do that. Now, they’re trying to change things up again with a Second Amended Complaint, which was proposed Wednesday. Per the Pennsylvania rules of court, Giuliani needed to request permission from the judge to file the Second Amended complaint. The process should be a simple one, in which Rudy submitted a redlined copy showcasing changes, along with a basic argument as to why the changes should be accepted by the court.

The reality, though, was a bumbling effort, containing numerous errors that range from the glaringly careless to the patently absurd.

In the proposed order submitted to U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann (the same Barack Obama-appointed judge with whom Rudy had the recent facepalming moments in court over “opacity” and “scrutiny”), America’s Mayor went a bit too far. Perplexingly, Giuliani typed Judge Brann’s name on the signature line on the proposed order.

To put it bluntly, that’s just not how it’s done. Parties to litigation will often submit proposed orders to a judge. Those orders will include a signature line, and the judge’s name below – but above the signature line is a sacrosanct portion of the document. Typing a judge’s name smacks of disrespect for the bench.

Speaking of signatures, while Team Trump was busy signing the judge’s name, others pointed out that they forgot to sign their own. Like all Complaints in Pennsylvania, the Second Amended Complaint ends with a verification section. This is where the lawyers submitting the document attest that they’ve reviewed the allegations and are putting them forth in good faith. Rudy Giuliani’s signature is conspicuously absent. Neither America’s Mayor, nor anyone else, signed the document on behalf of Trump.

Election law expert Rick Hasen pointed out glaring the signature errors in a series of tweets, calling Giuliani’s “incompetence” “striking”:

Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis tried her hand at snark in response to Hasen’s reprimand:

It didn’t go well for Ellis.

And Hasen had the last LOL on Thursday morning, as Trump lawyers submitted a new version of the proposed order without the judge’s signature.

While we’re on the topic of whether any real lawyer actually looked over the pleadings, there was also this Freudian gem:

The error – calling the Second Amended Complaint a “Second Amendment Complaint” should come as no shock to anyone who followed the Four Seasons debacle.

Amusing as it is to recount the endless details of Giuliani’s sloppy lawyering, the wrongness of this litigation transcends the superficial, and lands on the truly maddening. As amended, Trump’s Complaint removed many of the earlier and more serious allegations, and instead, focuses its attention on misuse of Pennsylvania precedent.

As Law&Crime explained earlier, the issue in the earlier case had been “whether Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State could require county election board officials to implement a procedure for contacting voters who submitted defective ballots, not whether the practice was permissible at all.”

Giuliani’s argument not only mischaracterizes the precedent, but also offers an unconvincing rationale for the federal court to involve itself in matters of Pennsylvania election law.

Perhaps most glaring, though, is the roadmap Giuliani lays out from litigation strategy to ultimate remedy [emphasis ours]:

“The Plaintiffs intend to show that a substantial portion of the 1.5 million mail votes received in the Defendant Counties were counted in violation of Pennsylvania law (including the exclusion of Trump and Republican watchers from the canvass of mail ballots and approving mail ballots which did not comport with Pennsylvania’s signature, date, and other requirements, see 25 P.S. §§3146.6(a), 3150.16(a)). Plaintiffs will also show that Defendants’ conduct was part of an improper scheme to favor Biden over Trump by counting improper votes in violation of the Equal Protection, Due Process, and Electors and Elections clauses under the Constitution and Civil Rights Act. Ultimately, Plaintiffs will seek the remedy of Trump being declared the winner of the legal votes cast in Pennsylvania in the 2020 General Election, and, thus, the recipient of Pennsylvania’s electors.”

One thing that is alarmingly clear is the chaos at work inside the Trump legal team. According to Giuliani’s motion, one reason why he needs to amend again is that “former counsel suffered threats of violence,” which was “disruptive” to litigation efforts. He claimed that whole sections of claims were “inadvertently” withdrawn.

Now that Rudy is at the helm, I’m sure things promise to go more smoothly.

[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos