Another Hearing Scheduled to Decide Laura Hobbs’ ‘Unimpressive’ Election Lawsuit

Laura Hobbs, the defeated District 2 Supervisor candidate who brought a double lawsuit against the District 2 winner and the retired Registrar of Voters, was back in court Wednesday morning.

Nine days ago Hobbs was in the same sixth-floor courtroom for a hearing about the lawsuit she hoped would result in her name being placed on the November ballot for a second shot at winning the Shasta County Board of Supervisors District 2 seat.

With each court hearing, Hobbs’ hopes seem less possible, as each time, Judge Stephen H. Baker tactfully yet bluntly articulates in a variety of ways the degree to which the court is “unimpressed” with Hobbs’ case.

Hobbs, who lost the March 5 election to contender Allen Long, filed papers in April to sue Long and┬áCathy Darling Allen, Shasta County’s longtime Registrar of Voters until a few weeks ago.

Wednesday, most of the benches inside Judge Stephen H. Baker’s courtroom were packed with Hobbs’ supporters, citizens who concur with Hobbs that the March election contained alleged errors, anomalies, unlawfully discarded ballots, problematic audit logs, and a laundry list of accusations against Darling Allen.

Among those in the audience were District 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones and his wife, Lori, who sat near Shasta County Counsel Joseph Larmour. Board of Supervisor meeting regulars Richard Gallardo — who contributed $3,000 to Hobbs’ campaign — and Patty Plumb — who has acted as Hobbs’ spokesperson — were also in attendance.

Generally speaking, Hobbs and friends share the belief in former President Donald Trump’s Big Lie, that the 2020 election was stolen. Likewise, Hobbs and her supporters reject the use of election machines, promote one-day voting and the return to solely hand-counted ballots.

During Wednesday’s hearing, some Hobbs’ supporters occasionally whispered reactions and commentary, including one woman who said the reason the judge didn’t allow audio recordings was because, “they don’t want the truth heard”.

As with the May 20 hearing, Judge Baker spoke at length about various election codes and case law to substantiate his position that Hobbs’ lawsuit was “defective”. Once again, Judge Baker expressed concern at how long it had been since the election.

This time, Judge Baker likened Hobbs lawsuit to a “fishing expedition”, which he said he wouldn’t tolerate.

Wednesday, as Hobbs sat alone at the table facing the front of the courtroom, most of the discussions took place between Judge Baker, and two attorneys who participated in the hearing via phone. Renowned national election-denier attorney Alex Haberbush represented Hobbs, while Christopher Pisano of Best Best & Krieger LLP represented Darling Allen, who insisted that “the ROV doesn’t have it out for Ms. Hobbs”.

Judge Baker mentioned the fact that Hobbs had canceled her initial intention for a recount. He emphasized the importance that the public has confidence in the elections process. He referred to Hobbs’ lawsuit’s “vague references to possible anomalies” that amounted to a “fishing expedition” that lacked sufficient basis for a strong case.

Haberbush countered that Hobbs’ lawsuit was the only manner to correct election “defects” – such as a failure to adhere to alphabetical order that should have placed Hobbs’ name higher on the ballot. Regarding Judge Baker’s assertion that Hobbs wasn’t diligent in her attempts to serve Long with papers, Haberbush said that Long was aware of the case, and Hobbs made several attempts to serve Long and Darling Allen.

Despite Judge Baker being obviously unimpressed with Hobbs’ case, Baker said he would grant the parties time to gain more evidence and return for yet another hearing that would probably result in a judgement.

Haberbush informed the court of his intention to call witnesses, some of whom might be from the elections office. Baker said that because Darling Allen has retired, then Joanna Francescut, the assistant ROV, could attend the hearing as the acting ROV.

Baker reminded the parties that the hearing was just that, and not a jury trial. He set the next hearing date for 10:30 a.m. on June 11.

“I hope to make a decision that day,” Judge Baker said.

Laura Hobbs listens to Ken Michaud following the hearing.

With that, the hearing was adjourned. A slightly smiling Hobbs filed out of the courtroom into the hallway where she was surrounded by supporters, including Ken Michaud, who spoke earnestly to Hobbs.

Michaud is one name that has surfaced as a potential applicant for the current ROV vacancy. The Shasta County Board of Supervisors will soon select an ROV.

By then, Judge Baker will have ruled on Hobbs’ case.

Judge Baker said he’d reviewed all the information.

“I have my own thoughts how to proceed, and whether to proceed,” Baker said.

Meanwhile, Hobbs supporters are asking for money to cover her legal battle.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate, Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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