If nothing else, the ruling has the virtue of brevity. The Nevada Supreme Court unanimously rejected an appeal by the Trump campaign late last night of its earlier and comprehensive loss on the merits of their claims of massive fraud in the 2020 election. The court found that the campaign’s appeal identified no errors or new facts to warrant reconsideration of Judge James Russell’s fact-finding or legal reasoning:
The Nevada Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Tuesday night to reject an appeal from President Trump’s campaign to overturn the state’s election results, the latest loss in the president’s ongoing legal efforts to have states he did not win declare him victorious.
The 6-to-0 decision from Nevada’s high court came after a lower court gave a full-scale ruling against the Trump campaign’s efforts in the state last week. Judge James T. Russell of the Nevada District Court ruled Friday that there was no evidence supporting the claims of fraud and wrongdoing made by the campaign in a state that President-elect Joe Biden won by more than 33,000 votes.
In a 40-page order from the Nevada Supreme Court late Tuesday, the justices “affirmed” the decision from Russell and said the court would take no action. The court found that the Trump campaign failed to identify “any unsupported factual findings” in Russell’s decision, with the state’s high court concluding that it had also “identified none.”
“To prevail on this appeal, appellants must demonstrate error of law, findings of fact not supported by substantial evidence or an abuse of discretion in the admission or rejection of evidence by the district court,” the order read. “We are not convinced they have done so.”
In fact, the court took less than two pages in its ruling to dispense with the appeal. Rather than recapitulate Russell’s findings, they simply attached it to their unanimous rejection, along with a rather stinging criticism of both the lawsuit and appeal from Team Trump:
In particular, appellants have not demonstrated any legal error in the district court’s application of NRS 293.410(2)(c). We also are not convinced that the district court erred in applying a burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence, as supported by the cases cited in the district court’s order. And, in any event, the district court further determined that appellants had not met their burden even if it applied a lesser standard. Finally, the district court’s order thoroughly addressed the grounds asserted in the statement of contest filed by appellants and considered the evidence offered by appellants even when that evidence did not meet the requirements under Nevada law for expert testimony, see NRS 50.275; Hallrnctrk v. Eldridge, 124 Nev. 492, 189 P.3d 646 (2008) (explaining requirements for witness to testify as an expert), or for admissibility, see, e.g., NRS 51.065 (providing that hearsay is inadmissible except as otherwise
provided in Nevada law).
The state supreme court had warned the campaign not to waste its time, a warning which they concluded the campaign ignored:
Despite our earlier order asking appellants to identify specific findings with which they take issue, appellants have not pointed to any unsupported factual findings, and we have identified none. The clerk of this court shall issue the remittitur forthwith. See NRAP 2 (allowing the court to suspend any rules in a particular case except for the time to file a notice of appeal). For these reasons, we ORDER the judgment of the district court AFFIRMED.
The Trump campaign has not made its efforts in Nevada a highlight of their efforts to overturn the results of the election, so this might fly under the national radar a bit. However, as I wrote on Friday, this loss and now the state supreme court ruling is a very big deal, because the Nevada district court allowed the campaign to put on its full case against the election. As the state supreme court points out above, Russell allowed them to enter evidence that courts in the state would normally block — expert testimony without sufficient expertise, hearsay, and so on.
In other words, Team Trump got their full day in court, and still lost. Russell ruled against every affidavit, every expert, and every legal argument they presented. The ruling last night from the state supreme court reviewed that record and pointedly notes that not only did the campaign fail to meet a preponderance-of-evidence standard even while including inadmissible presentations, they unanimously agreed with Russell that it didn’t even meet lower evidentiary standards. It’s a stunning condemnation of Team Trump’s legal work and claims in the election.
So what now? The campaign could appeal this to the federal courts, but that would be an act of desperation — and not just because the Safe Harbor date has passed. This is not the court record a competent legal team would want to bring before the Supreme Court in an application for relief, if for no other reason than federal courts at any level will rely on the state court for its factual findings. And that would tell them that there’s no there there.