A federal judge appointed by President Donald Trump rejected what he called a “creative” lawsuit on Thursday. It was a suit that Georgia’s assistant attorney general warned would cause the Peach State’s largest disenfranchisement since the Jim Crow era.
“To halt the certification at literally the 11th hour would breed confusion and disenfranchisement that I find have no basis in fact and law,” U.S. District Judge Steven Grimberg declared at the end of a roughly two-and-a-half hour hearing.
Georgia’s assistant attorney general Russell Willard called the lawsuit an effort to roll back the clock on voting rights in the state.
“The election is over, and rather than accept that his candidate has lost, plaintiff seeks the largest disenfranchisement in Georgia since the abolition of the poll tax and the vestiges of Jim Crow,” Willard thundered.
The celebrity attorney making the breathtaking request was L. Lin Wood, Jr., who also represented former U.S. Congressman Gary Condit and the alleged victim in the Kobe Bryant case. Wood has also represented Nicholas Sandmann and JonBenét Ramsey’s family. Wood currently represents Kyle Rittenhouse and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
While Wood sued in his capacity as an average Georgia voter, the judge made clear that this did not give the lawyer a basis to sue.
“There is no doubt that the right to vote, even an individual’s right to vote is sacrosanct,” Judge Grimberg added, adding that this “doesn’t mean that individual voters have the right to dictate” the manner in which that vote is counted.
On the surface of his lawsuit, Wood claims that Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger harmed him as a voter by agreeing to a March settlement agreement on signature matching in ballots. The lawyer waited eight months and three election cycles to challenge it on Nov. 13, when it became clear that President-elect Joe Biden had won.
“His undue delay prejudiced the Secretary of State and certainly prejudiced the millions of voters in this election,” Grimberg ruled.
Willard described the lawsuit as sour grapes masquerading as a cause of action.
“Plaintiff attempts to change the rules at the end of the game in order to alter the score,” Willard said.
“I understand the plaintiff’s frustration that his favored candidate has lost,” he continued, adding that does not give Wood the right to manufacture claims.
That argument appeared to resonate with the judge.
“The fact that the candidate or candidates that this plaintiff voted for… did not prevail in an election does not meet the legal standard of harm, much less irreparable harm,” Grimberg found.
The only fact witness called by Wood’s legal team was recount auditor Susan Voyles, who repeatedly called it “amazing” that so many absentee ballots skewed in Biden’s favor in the batches that she observed. She testified that she found it suspicious and conceded upon cross-examination that she is a Republican activist.
The Democratic Party of Georgia’s attorney Kevin Hamilton noted that a “generalized grievance” about the election does not give Wood standing, the legal term for the right to sue.
Those standing arguments appeared to resonate with Judge Grimberg.
When Wood’s attorney Ray Stallings Smith III said he was retained by Trump’s campaign, Judge Grimberg called it significant that the campaign is not a party to the case.
Grimberg called Trump’s lack of an appearance in the case one of the reasons he found a lack of standing.
[Image via Fox News screengrab]
Update — Nov. 20 at 5:52 p.m. ET:
The day after ruling from the bench during oral arguments, Judge Grimberg issued his written opinion reiterating his remarks from the bench.
“The Court finds that the threatened injury to Defendants as state officials and the public at large far outweigh any minimal burden on Wood,” Grimberg wrote in the conclusion of his 38-page order. “To reiterate, Wood seeks an extraordinary remedy: to prevent Georgia’s certification of the votes cast in the General Election, after millions of people had lawfully cast their ballots. To interfere with the result of an election that has already concluded would be unprecedented and harm the public in countless ways.”
Read the ruling below:
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