Election Law

Election lawyer sanctioned $10K; judge says she 'bamboozled' voters who didn't realize they were plaintiffs

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A Minnesota judge said Friday he would impose a $10,000 sanction on an election lawyer who “bamboozled” voters into becoming plaintiffs.

Chief Judge Leonardo Castro of Ramsey County, Minnesota, said he would sanction Minnesota lawyer Susan Shogren Smith, a member of a conservative group that tried to prevent certification of election results, according to the Pioneer Press.

The newspaper covered Castro’s remarks from the bench and the testimony of Republican activist Corinne Braun, who said she didn’t believe that the affidavit she signed would make her a plaintiff.

Braun said she signed the form after receiving an anonymous email asking her to add her name to a list of disgruntled voters. The affidavit said Braun would be joining with other voters across Minnesota to contest election results.

“To me, that meant the same as going online and signing a petition,” Braun said during the hearing. “As a lay person, an affidavit doesn’t mean anything.”

Braun had learned that she was a plaintiff in February after she searched her name on a whim in the state’s online court records, according to the newspaper.

Castro had tossed five election complaints filed by Smith in December. The lawyer told Castro on Friday that she thought other members of her group were speaking with plaintiffs and keeping them informed. She didn’t immediately respond to an ABA Journal email seeking comment.

Smith’s website describes herself as a disability rights advocate who has chaired the Children and the Law Section for the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Story updated on March 31 to clarify that Braun didn’t realize the affidavit she signed would make her a plaintiff.

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