Penny ante crimes in Colorado. A self-published book from a self-styled expert. Her well-paid job working for an anti-gay hate group and then an affiliated parochial school. And a corporate media willing to accept a narrative tale of personal boosterism at face value. Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis has been considered a “constitutional law attorney” by cable news networks. In reality, she doesn’t have much experience practicing constitutional law.
According to the New York Times, Ellis has never litigated a constitutional law case to completion and, to this day, has never been an attorney of record on a single election law-related controversy.
That Thursday morning exposé by journalists Jeremy W. Peters and Alan Feuer notes that Ellis began her career as a low-level prosecutor in Weld County, Colorado where she mostly spent her time prosecuting minor felonies like theft and assault–a far cry from the current matters of great national and constitutional importance that she currently opines upon for the failed Trump 2020 campaign.
-Never argued a case in federal court ✅
-A "constitutional law professor" at a school with no law school ✅
-Lots of experience in local court w/ DUI & assaults ✅ https://t.co/RPrUZcQGQj
— Jeremy W. Peters (@jwpetersNYT) December 3, 2020
Ellis' work so far for the Trump campaign has largely been in the PR arena.
The campaign & its Republican supporters have filed more than 50 lawsuits since Election Day.
Ellis has not signed her name or appeared in court to argue any of them yet.
— Alan Feuer (@alanfeuer) December 3, 2020
From the article:
Since she graduated law school in 2011, nothing in her record in the courtroom — limited mostly to appearances in state court as a prosecutor or as counsel for clients charged with assault, prostitution, theft and domestic abuse — shows any time spent litigating election law cases.
She holds herself out as an expert on the Constitution based on her self-published book and her teaching of pre-law classes to undergraduates. She has never appeared in federal district or circuit court, where most constitutional matters are considered, according to national databases of federal cases, and does not appear to have played a major role in any cases beyond her criminal and civil work in Colorado.
The exact role Ellis plays for the Trump campaign is instructive.
While a mainstay at increasingly desperate press conferences where she–along with President Donald Trump’s longtime (pro bono?) attorney Rudy Giuliani–promote debunked claims of massive and widespread voter and/or electoral fraud, Ellis has not actually appeared in court to make any of those claims. Indeed, she hasn’t even signed her name on a single one of the several dozen lawsuits that the campaign has filed in court systems across the country since the 45th president’s decisive November loss.
Ellis vaguely disputed the Times report in a tweet that was seemingly designed to mimic the president’s tweeting:
This is how ridiculous the fake news media is. Along with factually false statements (and cute opinions from jealous colleagues craving relevancy—sad!), @nytimes refused to print this quotation I provided to them, at their request for comment.
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) December 3, 2020
While Ellis did not elaborate on the allegedly “factually false statements” contained in the piece, she did go on to catalogue something akin to grievances with her former colleagues. Ellis suggested that their comments should not be taken seriously because they hate Trump (In 2016, Jenna Ellis wrote that Trump supporters make “blatantly stupid arguments” and “DON’T CARE about facts or logic”).
“Also NYT failed to disclose the two former colleagues are two of the most vocally Trump-hating lawyers in Colorado (one is an extreme liberal Democrat feminist and the other a podcast host who lost his radio show and most of his audience due to his hatred of Trump),” she said in a follow-up tweet. “Dishonesty.”
Stephanie Stout is one of those former colleagues.
She currently works out of a private practice in the Mile High State. Previously, Stout and Ellis worked as defense co-counsel for a man accused of attempted murder. That professional relationship reportedly didn’t last too long, however, because their client fired Ellis. Stout said she was let go due to her lack of legal expertise.
“I find it astonishing that she’s gotten to this point,” the Colorado-based attorney told the Times. “She just didn’t have the legal chops.”
Stout went on to win the case by her lonesome.
“After that, Jenna decided that I had stolen the case from her,” she said. Ellis may have prosecuted theft, but she didn’t stop that steal.
Ellis got out in front of the Times story on Wednesday, warning a “hit piece” was coming. She winked when seemingly suggesting she could be the next Amy Coney Barrett.
[image via screengrab/Centennial Institute/YouTube]
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