Kobach Can’t Duck $1,000 Sanction in Voter ID Case

In this Nov. 20, 2016, file photo, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, right, holds a stack of papers as he meets with then President-elect Donald Trump at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J. Civil rights advocates say Kobach is trying to hide materials that undercut his public claim that substantial numbers of noncitizens have registered to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union obtained the documents as part of its federal civil lawsuit in Kansas challenging the state’s proof-of-citizenship document requirement. It wants to court to remove the confidential designation Kobach placed on materials he was photographed taking into a November meeting. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WICHITA, Kan. (CN) – Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach suffered another setback in an ongoing voter ID case with the American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday, after a federal judge refused to reconsider an order requiring Kobach to sit for a deposition and pay a $1,000 fine for misleading the court.

On June 30, U.S. Magistrate Judge James O’Hara fined Kobach for misleading the court as to the nature of the voting and immigration policy documents he shared with President Donald Trump in a November meeting. Kobach asked O’Hara to reconsider, contending that last-minute changes to the court filing led to the misleading information.

Kobach also asked O’Hara to reconsider the deposition requirement, stating it might prevent him from acting as counsel in the case due to a potential conflict of interest. He also said the deposition was “intended to harass, annoy, or embarrass” him.

In a 5-page order, O’Hara upheld the $1,000 fine by noting that Kobach could have informed the court of the last-minute changes before sanctions were levied.

“For the first time, defendant asserts the misrepresentations made in his response to plaintiffs’ motion to compel were due to ‘last-minute editing to meet page limitations; which led to the deletion of language that more fully explained the point defendant was making,’” O’Hara wrote. “This argument for reconsideration again suffers from the fact that defendant could have, but did not, raise it earlier.”

O’Hara also criticized Kobach’s reconsideration request for its lack of substance.

“In any event, this new excuse lacks credibility based on its late assertion (which appears to be an attempt at a second bite at the apple) and lack of supporting documentation,” O’Hara wrote.

As for Kobach’s bid to avoid the deposition, O’Hara noted this was the first time Kobach had brought up the subject to the court.

“Defendant concedes he did not discuss this “specific ethical problem” in his response to plaintiffs’ motion for sanctions,” O’Hara wrote. “The court will not grant reconsideration based on ‘new arguments or supporting facts that could have been presented originally.’ Moreover, had the issue been raised, the undersigned likely would have rejected it.”

O’Hara said the decision of whether Kobach can remain as counsel in the case is up to U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson, who is presiding over the case.

In response to O’Hara’s ruling, Kobach asked Robinson late Wednesday to overrule O’Hara. In the motion, Kobach said O’Hara erred in his judgment and failed to give consideration to the evidence.

Kobach’s office did not return a phone call seeking comment by press time.


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