Stay In King-Lincoln v. Blackwell Case Lifted; Mike Connell Subpoenaed, But He Moves To Quash

Mike Connell, known to many as the Republican IT "guru," has been subpoenaed by the plaintiffs in the Ohio lawsuit King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell. Connell has moved to quash the subpoena.

For details and background on this case, see our previous coverage here and here, but in a nutshell, some Ohio voters filed a lawsuit about the 2004 election. They want to take the deposition of Mike Connell, the man who set up the computers for counting the votes in Ohio.

There has been a stay on the case for some time, and lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Cliff Arnebeck, filed a motion earlier in September [PDF, 6 pages] to lift the stay. Eventually the defendant, current Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, concurred with Arnebeck that the stay should be lifted. The motion [PDF, 2 pages] was granted on September 19, and reads as follows:

On motion of the plaintiffs and agreement of the defendant Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, the stay in this matter is lifted for the sole purpose of permitting the plaintiffs to take the deposition of Michael Connell and any other witnesses whose testimony, in the judgment of these parties, may be warranted based upon the deposition of Michael Connell.

Those "other witnesses" are likely to include many of those named in Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips' declaration [PDF, 6 pages] filed with the court filed on September 2. And eventually, if testimony from Connell and other witnesses warrants it -- and we believe it will -- Karl Rove himself will be subpoened. It is worth noting that there is no executive priviledge for civil cases, and thus the president has no power to order Rove to not comply with a subpoena related to this case.

In the meantime, the legal dance begins anew with Connell and his attorneys filing a motion [PDF, 11 pages] to quash the subpoena. They claim that due to confidentiality agreements with Connell's clients, he should not be compelled to sit for a deposition. That argument is questionable because the plaintiffs are only interested in public documents and the architecture of the 2004 election computer system created for Ohio; there is no basis for avoiding a subpoena by arguing that state or federal government work is confidential and therefore warrants immunity from subpoena.

In addition, in litigation witnesses frequently have to divulge confidential information, and a witness cannot hide behind confidentiality to cover up alleged criminal activity.

A judge can order testimony to be held in camera (kept secret and not made public) in cases where proprietary information or issues of national security are involved. This leaves little reason for Connell's motion to quash to be granted.

Further, Connell made some rather explosive statements to cyber-security expert Stephen Spoonamore, who is serving as an expert witness for the plaintiffs. According to a sworn declaration filed with the court, Spoonamore said Connell "clearly agrees that the electronic voting systems in the US are not secure."

Even more importantly, Spoonamore states in his declaration that "Mr. Connell is a devout Catholic. He has admitted to me that in his zeal to 'save the unborn' he may have helped others who have compromised elections. He was clearly uncomfortable when I asked directly about Ohio 2004." [emphasis added]

These and other statements Connell made to Mr. Spoonamore is a very strong indication that Connell's testimony should be compelled and his motion to quash denied.

This legal battle continues, and likely will be drawn out for a very long time. But hopefully, whatever information Mr. Connell has on the details of what happened in Ohio regarding the 2004 election will come to light well before November. The accuracy and fairness of the upcoming election, and thus of our republic, may well depend on it.

Check back here frequently for updates and news as they occur.

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