ABOVE PHOTO: Thomas Breth, left, a lawyer for Fulton County, Pa., stands with different county officers and explains that the state Supreme Courtroom had simply put their voting machine inspection on maintain earlier than it began in McConnellsburg, Pa., Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (AP Photograph/Marc Levy)
By Mark Scolforo
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania Republican-majority County authorities the place two commissioners secretly allowed a 3rd celebration to repeat voting-machine knowledge final 12 months to assist former President Donald Trump overturn his 2020 reelection defeat acquired contempt sanctions Wednesday from the state’s highest court docket.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Courtroom dominated in opposition to Fulton County commissioners Stuart Ulsh and Randy Bunch — and their legal professionals — for his or her habits late final fall throughout pending litigation.
“We discover that Fulton County and its numerous attorneys have engaged in a sustained, deliberate sample of dilatory, stubborn and vexatious conduct and have acted in unhealthy religion all through these sanction proceedings,” wrote Justice David Wecht, in a 79-page opinion that introduced the county was being held in civil contempt.
Fulton County was ordered to reimburse the Division of State for its authorized prices and costs spent looking for to guard the machines from exterior examinations since December 2021. The justices additionally known as for the Dominion Voting Techniques Inc.-owned machines in query to be positioned within the custody of a “impartial agent” on the county’s expense.
The Division of State had sought sanctions after studying in September that Speckin Forensics LLC, of Lansing, Michigan, copied onerous drives in July from voting machines Fulton County rented from Dominion. Messages looking for remark have been left for Speckin Forensics, which was not accused of wrongdoing within the matter earlier than the Pennsylvania Supreme Courtroom.
Fulton had claimed in a lawsuit in opposition to Dominion that it was trying into whether or not the machines recorded votes precisely.
Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro, known as the excessive court docket choice “additional proof that those that abuse our authorized system to hawk harmful lies about our elections will proceed to be held accountable.”
The court docket ruling in Pennsylvania comes as election conspiracy theorists have gained entry to confidential knowledge from voting machines in rural areas throughout the nation, starting from Colorado to Michigan. A clerk in Colorado’s Mesa County faces a number of felony fees for her function in a breach there, and a particular prosecutor was appointed to analyze breaches in Michigan.
Ulsh stated in a telephone interview Wednesday he had not seen the court docket opinions however had no regrets over how he and Bunch dealt with the machines of their effort to overview the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.
“Nothing occurred in Fulton County. I do know that due to what I did,” Ulsh stated. Fulton County gave Trump greater than 85% of its vote in 2020.
Ulsh and Bunch each invoked their Fifth Modification proper in opposition to self-incrimination in response to the overwhelming majority of questions requested of them on direct examination within the contempt proceedings late final 12 months earlier than the excessive court docket’s particular grasp, Commonwealth Courtroom President Choose Renee Cohn Jubelirer.
Dominion has been the topic of conspiracy theories claiming with out proof the election was stolen from Trump. The corporate reached a virtually $800 million settlement with Fox Information on Tuesday in considered one of quite a lot of defamation lawsuits it has filed in opposition to his allies and right-wing broadcasters.
Within the Pennsylvania case, the justices dominated that Dominion was additionally entitled to authorized prices related to defending the voting machines going again to December 2021.
Fulton’s lawyer, Thomas J. Carroll of Pottstown, “incessantly transgressed the bounds of zealous however moral advocacy,” repeatedly elevating the identical arguments earlier than Cohn Jubelirer and the state Supreme Courtroom, “lengthy after it was clear that neither would grant the reduction he sought,” Wecht stated.
The justices referred Carroll to the state Legal professional Disciplinary Board for an investigation and dominated Carroll to be liable — together with Fulton County — for prices and costs expended by Dominion and the Division of State since Carroll entered the case in April 2022. A message looking for remark from Carroll was left at his work telephone quantity.
“We will hope that the sanctions will underscore for the County, Legal professional Carroll, and different observers that they trifle with judicial orders and time-honored guidelines and norms in litigation at their peril,” Wecht wrote.
In its opinion, the court docket additionally focused Stefanie Lambert, a Michigan lawyer who already has been sanctioned for her efforts to assist Trump overturn his defeat. She represented Fulton County beginning in 2022. The justices stated she didn’t disclose the disciplinary proceedings in Michigan arising from “2020 election-related litigation deemed frivolous and vexatious.”
In an emailed remark, Lambert made claims concerning the underlying litigation between Fulton County and Dominion however didn’t tackle the Pennsylvania Supreme Courtroom’s criticism of her.
The justices despatched the matter again to Cohn Jubelirer to calculate the relevant authorized charges and litigation prices to the Division of State and Dominion.