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Judge Throws Out Nevada Alternate Electors Case Over Jurisdiction Concerns

On Friday, a Nevada judge dismissed the case involving alternate electors who accused six Republicans of submitting fake certificates to Congress following the 2020 election.

Clark County Judge Mary Kay Holthus made a bench ruling on Friday at the Clark County District Court, dismissing the case, as reported by courtroom sources.

The judge indicated skepticism towards state prosecutors’ argument that Clark County was the appropriate venue for the case, seemingly favoring defense attorneys who contended that the certificate signing took place in Douglas County.

“You have literally, in my opinion, a crime that has occurred in another jurisdiction,” Judge Holthus said at the hearing. “It’s so appropriately up north and so appropriately not here.”

In her decision to dismiss the case, the judge canceled the trial originally set for January.

Among the defendants were Michael McDonald, chairman of the state GOP; Jim DeGraffenreid, a member of the national party committee; Shawn Meehan, who serves on both national and Douglas County committees; and Eileen Rice, a party member from the Lake Tahoe region.

Each was charged with offering a false instrument for filing and uttering a forged instrument, felonies that carry penalties of up to five years in prison.

Defense attorneys argued that Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford improperly filed the case in Las Vegas instead of Carson City or Reno, cities closer to where the alleged crime occurred.

After the hearing, Mr. Ford told reporters at the court that “the judge got it wrong and we’ll be appealing immediately.” He did not provide any more details.

Margaret McLetchie, an attorney for one of the defendants, told news outlets that it’s unlikely the case will proceed. “They’re done,” she said.

She noted that the attorney general would need to present the case to a different grand jury in a venue like Nevada’s capital, Carson City. This action, however, would breach a three-year statute of limitations for filing charges, which expired in December 2023.

Earlier this year, attorney Richard Wright, who was representing the defendants, argued that prosecutors made a “politically expedient” move by bringing the case in Clark County.

“The venue that’s appropriate is Carson City and Minden,” he told the Nevada Independent in January. “That’s a Republican area, so I’ll be anxious to hear why the attorney general chose [Las Vegas] as the convenient forum. To me, it’s painfully obvious. Because it’s Democratic.”

Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, votes more in favor of Democrats in national elections, suggesting that the jury pool may have had a more unfavorable view of the Republicans who were accused of a crime.

In late 2023, Democrat Aaron Ford initiated a case against the six Republicans, accusing them of “efforts to undermine faith in our democracy … after the 2020 election.”

At the time, a grand jury returned an indictment of the six for allegedly portraying themselves as Nevada’s presidential electors after the 2020 election’s conclusion. After they were indicted, a number of media outlets described the Republicans as “fake electors” or “false electors.”

Nevada is among seven key battleground states where alternate electors certified that then-President Donald Trump won the 2020 general election, not Democratic challenger Joe Biden. The Silver State is expected to play a pivotal role once more in the 2024 presidential race, alongside Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Criminal charges have been brought in Michigan, Georgia, and Arizona. In Arizona, a handful of Trump-affiliated officials and individuals were indicted, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, lawyer Jenna Ellis, former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, former U.S. Senate candidate James Lamon, and more.

In 2020, election data showed that former President Trump was behind then-candidate Biden by about 30,000 votes in Nevada. The state’s Democrat Party electors then certified those results at a ceremony alongside Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican.

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