Before Kris Kobach was leading the now-defunct presidential election commission, he was disenfranchising voters in Kansas.— ACLU (@ACLU) March 3, 2018
We're taking him and the law that blocked more than 35,000 Kansans from registering to vote to trial next week. #ACLUvKobach pic.twitter.com/AqGzGYPzkx
Kansas State Secretary Kris Kobach just learned a lesson in law by Judge Julie Robinson — something he should have done prior to representing himself in court against the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over a case that could change the course of American citizens’ voting rights.
During the two day trial, Robinson had to intervene several times to walk Kobach and his team through basic legal procedure and how to submit evidence.
“I’m not going to allow anybody to testify to a document that’s not in evidence,” she said. “Evidence 101. I’m not going to do it.”
She also explained how to phrase cross questions and how to impeach a witness.
Kobach is also running for governor. He decided to represent himself in a case filed by the ACLU against Kobach’s efforts to impose a documentation proof of citizenship law. The suit was filed in 2016 after 14 percent of Kansas voters failed to meet requirements set by Kobach to be on the voters rolls.
Accusations were made that this law was introduced to suppress unaffiliated and Democratic voters in the Republican-controlled state.
It is unclear why the gubernatorial hopeful decided to fight the case himself, even though he had the Kansas attorney general’s office at his disposal with numerous skilled attorneys.
State voters think Kobach and his team are “embarrassing” Kansas with their actions.
“It was really interesting to watch all the mistakes he was making in court,” said an organization employee that helps Kansans register to vote. “They’re representing the state of Kansas and the fact that Kansas is right now being embarrassed in a federal court by the people who are representing it is very unfortunate.”
According to the ACLU, it was much more surprising that even the counsel chosen by Kobach to lead the case with him were inexperienced. Sue Becker and Garrett Roe both hold prominent positions in the state secretary’s office, but their inexperience showed as they tried questioning the ACLU witnesses and experts.
Laughter reportedly rang out in the courtroom at Becker’s expense. In one instance, Robinson tried to get Becker to repeat a question but then asked the proceedings to continue as the attorney seemed clueless about what she had asked.
When impeaching a witness, the inexperienced attorney insisted on reading from the deposition.
“No, you can’t do that. If you want to impeach him, show him the deposition… That’s the procedure. You can be more pointed in cross-examination. ‘Didn’t you testify to such such and such,’” the judge explained to Roe as he fumbled.
Breaks had to be taken so that Kobach’s team could find associated documents.
The team also submitted a piece of evidence with notes on it and several times violated a 24-hour rule by sending exhibits to the ACLU lawyers mere hours before the courts proceeding.
Two days into the trial, there was reportedly a much-needed stack of papers on Kobach’s table, labeled “Federal Rules of Evidence.”
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Dave Kaup/Reuters