4 weeks ago

Judge dismisses charges in Nevada fake electors case over venue question, attorney general to appeal

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada state court judge dismissed a criminal indictment Friday against six Republicans accused of submitting certificates to Congress falsely declaring Donald Trump the winner of the state’s 2020 presidential election, potentially killing the case with a ruling that state prosecutors chose the wrong venue to file the case.

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford stood in a Las Vegas courtroom a moment after Clark County District Court Judge Mary Kay Holthus delivered her ruling, declaring that he would take the case directly to the state Supreme Court.

“The judge got it wrong and we’ll be appealing immediately,” Ford told reporters afterward. He declined any additional comment.

Defense attorneys bluntly declared the case dead, saying that to bring the case now to another grand jury in another venue such as Nevada's capital city of Carson City would violate a three-year statute of limitations on filing charges that expired in December.

“They’re done,” said Margaret McLetchie, attorney for Clark County Republican party chairman Jesse Law, one of the defendants in the case.

The judge called off trial, which had been scheduled for next January, for defendants that included state GOP chairman Michael McDonald; national party committee member Jim DeGraffenreid; national and Douglas County committee member Shawn Meehan; and Eileen Rice, a party member from the Lake Tahoe area. Each was charged with offering a false instrument for filing and uttering a forged instrument, felonies that carry penalties of up to four or five years in prison.

Defense attorneys contended that Ford improperly brought the case in Las Vegas instead of Carson City or Reno, northern Nevada cities closer to where the alleged crime occurred. They also accused prosecutors of failing to present to the grand jury evidence that would have exonerated their clients, and said their clients had no intent to commit a crime.

All but Meehan have been named by the state party as Nevada delegates to the 2024 Republican National Convention next month in Milwaukee.

Meehan’s defense attorney, Sigal Chattah, said her client “chose not to” seek the position. Chattah ran as a Republican in 2022 for state attorney general and lost to Ford, a Democrat, by just under 8% of the vote.

After the court hearing, Hindle’s attorney, Brian Hardy, declined to comment on calls that his client has faced from advocacy groups that say he should resign from his elected position as overseer of elections in northern Nevada’s Story County, a jurisdiction with a few more than 4,100 residents. Those calls included ones at a news conference Friday outside the courthouse by leaders of three organizations.

Nevada is one of seven presidential battleground states where slates of fake electors falsely certified that Trump had won in 2020, not Democrat Joe Biden.

Others are Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Criminal charges have been brought in Michigan, Georgia and Arizona.

Trump lost Nevada in 2020 by more than 30,000 votes to Biden and the state’s Democratic electors certified the results in the presence of Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican. Her defense of the results as reliable and accurate led the state GOP to censure her, but Cegavske later conducted an investigation that found no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state.

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