Ballot Dropbox for Pennsylvania mail-in ballots, Media, PA. Credit:Abigail McCann/Shutterstock.com
After the law firms bringing election challenges in court faced mounting public pressure this week from various organizations, one Am Law 200 firm has bowed out of one high-profile case.
Porter Wright Morris Arthur, the 222-attorney Columbus, Ohio, firm on the front lines of post-election litigation that has alleged irregularities and errors in ballot counting on behalf of President Donald Trump, withdrew from a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania on Thursday night.
Porter Wright was also involved in suits against the County Board of Elections in Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery counties, and has intervened in a lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party against Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar regarding mail ballot access issues such as prepaid postage and signature matching training. Their status in those cases did not appear to have changed based on a docket search Friday morning.
In the motion for withdrawal in federal court late Thursday, Porter Wright attorneys Ronald L. Hicks Jr. and Carolyn B. McGee said that “plaintiffs will be best served if Porter Wright withdraws.”
The motion follows a week of scrutiny for the firm, its attorneys and its clients after The New York Times on Monday reported divisions at the firm over its representation of Trump in Pennsylvania; associates told partners they opposed working for the Trump campaign after the election, and at least one lawyer quit, the Times reported.
In Monday’s Times story, the firm provided a statement indicating that Trump was no different from other candidates it has represented. “Porter Wright has a long history of representing candidates, political parties, interest groups and individuals at the local, state and federal levels on both sides of the aisle, and as a law firm will continue to do so,” the statement read.
The following day, The Lincoln Project, a Democratic political action committee staffed by former Republicans, launched a $500,000 ad campaign targeting Jones Day and Porter Wright over their representation of President Trump and the GOP in post-election litigation. The political action group Rise & Resist announced a Friday protest outside of Jones Day’s New York office and posted the phone numbers and Facebook pages of both firms to encourage their supporters to contact the firms and voice their displeasure.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleged that the state’s failure to run a transparent vote count “creates an obvious opportunity for ineligible voters to cast ballots, results in fraud and undermines the public’s confidence in the integrity of elections,” although it provided no direct evidence that a fraud occurred.
Hicks and McGee did not immediately respond to calls for comment Friday.
Porter Wright is one of several firms to take on post-election litigation, only to distance itself from Trump shortly after. Jones Day issued a statement Tuesday night noting that the firm was representing the Pennsylvania GOP, not the president or his campaign. (Although the firm did consent to Trump attorneys’ motion to intervene in the case.)
And on Thursday, Arizona’s biggest law firm, Snell & Wilmer, withdrew from a Republican National Committee lawsuit that alleged votes in Maricopa County were incorrectly rejected.
In the Pennsylvania lawsuit that Porter Wright withdrew from, the Trump campaign is left with Linda A. Kerns, a family law practitioner based in Philadelphia who has represented the Philadelphia GOP in election law cases.
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