A federal judge rebuked Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach Thursday after his team tried to introduce data that has not been shared with plaintiffs’ attorneys into a trial.
Kobach, a Republican candidate for governor, is handling his own defense with the help of two staff attorneys in the lawsuit against a Kansas law that requires prospective voters to provide proof of citizenship in order to register.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson has repeatedly warned Kobach’s team about trying to introduce evidence that has not been shared with the plaintiffs during the first three days of the high stakes trial, which will determine whether thousands can vote in Kansas this November.
Kobach complained that the parties in the case “are relying on numbers that are stale” after the judge blocked a line of questioning to Bryan Caskey, the state director of elections, on data that had not been provided to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the plaintiffs in the case before the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.
This triggered a rebuke from Robinson after three days of polite warnings on the rules of legal procedure in the face of multiple hiccups from Kobach’s team.
“We're not going to have a trial by ambush here... You're stuck with what you provided to them by the deadline,” Robinson said.
"No, no. That's not how trials are conducted," she told Kobach during the exchange.
Sue Becker, an attorney on Kobach’s team, tried to interject. “Let me finish,” the judge said as she continued on with her admonishment.
Kobach’s office had two years to update the data on suspended voters being used in the case and waited until the week of the trial to try and work in new numbers into the case, Robinson said.
The trial has moved at a slow pace.
The ACLU had hoped to have finished presenting its case by Wednesday afternoon, but as of the close of business Thursday it still had multiple witnesses left to testify and still had not shown a video deposition of Kobach that will delve into his conversations with President Donald Trump on voting rights.
Only two witnesses testified Thursday, Caskey and Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Tabitha Lehman.
Lehman’s testimony centered on a spreadsheet of alleged instances of non-citizens registering or attempting to register in Sedgwick County.
The spreadsheet showed that 18 non-citizens became registered in the county from 1999 until the proof of citizenship law went into effect in 2013. An additional four became registered after an order blocking the law’s enforcement in 2016, according to the spreadsheet.
Only five of these people ever voted and only two were ever prosecuted.