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Jessica Huseman @JessicaHuseman
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In about 10 minutes, there will be a contempt hearing in #ACLUvKobach over whether Kobach appropriately complied with the preliminary injunction ordered in May 2016, which required him to fully register thousands placed on the suspense list for not showing proof of citizenship
You can read the ACLU’s motion for contempt here:…
This trial has been drawn out so long (it was supposed to be 4 days and we’re on day 8) that this contempt hearing has gotten its very own day - optics im sure Kobach would’ve preferred to avoid.
The court has recessed for 10 minutes bc there is intense confusion over evidence Kobach is attempting to submit in his own defense.
Prior to this confusion, Sue Becker offered an opening statement and the judge erupted at her and Kobach’s team. She said they’d “repeatedly” “participated in gamesmanship” in front of the court.
The judge also snapped at Kobach, who’d told her his office can only make sure counties “abide by the law” and not much else. “This is the law,” she said, referencing her previous rulings.
This has been...fascinating. This hearing was supposed to take minutes. Something is also bubbling in the hallway. ACLU lawyers have been running in and out of their room outside the courtroom.
The court is dismissed but I’ve got to catch a flight so I don’t miss a third flight bc of this trial so I’ll update from my taxi
OKAY: judge will issue a written decision on contempt. She did not rule today, but repeatedly tore into Kobach over his behavior and his office’s implementation of her preliminary injunction
The biggest issue was whether Kobach had followed up on a verbal promise he’d made that those previously on the suspense list who were now fully registered bc of the week preliminary injunction would receive postcards w their voting information.
Here’s the transcript where he told the judge that he’d do that. She’s yellow, he’s green. This was a telephone conference in Oct 2016. Sorry it’s messy, as established, I’m in a car.
Kobach and his team repeatedly made the argument that the instruction about postcards wasn’t in the judge’s written order. But as the judge repeatedly pointed out - it didn’t need to be. As a licensed attorney he’d made that representation to the court and was bound by it.
“I would not have ordered that,” the judge said to Kobach. “Why would I order something you told me you’d take care of? are under ethical obligation to tell me the truth...that’s why lawyers are licensed.”
Bryan Caskey, the state’s election director, had taken the stand earlier in the hearing. He said he never issued written orders for counties to send post cards to voters who were previously suspended, and could not recall being told to do so.
He said he’d mentioned it in a phone call with counties, and Kobach would later repeatedly claim counties were told and placed all blame on counties for not following instructions. They could produce no documentation showing counties had been given these instructions
In questions to Kobach that rounded out the hearing, Kobach essentially begged the judge not to find him in contempt. He repeatedly said the state would do “anything” the court felt necessary and they’d have time in the 5 months before the primary to carry out her orders
He also insinuated that his office had had a difficult time keeping up w all the new instructions based on the ruling, but as the judge pointed out, the preliminary injunction never changed - the reason for continuing instructions was bc Kobach’s office kept failing to follow it.
The judge told him that in her view he’d “chosen to interpret” the preliminary injunction in a way that wasn’t “fully compliant.” “I haven’t changed any rules,” she said. Kobach had just failed to comply “until he’s called on it.”
Shortly after, she dismissed the court. I asked Kobach for comment, he declined.
Worth noting here that this is the second time the ACLU has called for Kobach to be held in contempt. As @dale_e_ho noted in his opening and closing of this hearing, they withdrew their first motion months ago bc Kobach promised he’d fix all of the problems. Then he didn’t.
Cannot be overstated how clear it was that the judge had absolutely had it with Kobach’s team. More than once, she articulated for the record (for, I assume, when Kobach appeals) the ways he’d failed to follow proper protocol.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. I did successfully make this flight. Thanks for tuning in to my insanely long threads for the last few weeks. I lost my running shoes somewhere in Kansas City so if y’all find those hit me up.
ProPublica doesn’t do breaking news, so my long article on this (and other things) will be out in the coming weeks. Articles on today’s happenings, see @sherman_news, @Celia_LJ and @BryanLowry3 - some truly phenomenal reporters I’ve really enjoyed working alongside.
One more observation (SORRY): it was striking how many people other than himself Kobach sought to blame during this hearing for the post cards not being sent. He tried to throw Bryan Caskey under the bus then the county election officials who he said didn’t follow instructions... one point he read to Caskey a list of all of the lawyers and a paralegal that worked in his office, saying they too could have told Caskey to tell election officials to send out the post cards.
Kobach didn’t apologize for a misunderstanding or admit wrongdoing and offer plans to correct. He blamed every single election official he could find and insisted he’d done nothing wrong.
Alright bye ✈️
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