Judge shuts down Barry Co. sheriff’s attack on presidential election

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The sheriff who gained national attention for criticizing Michigan’s stay-at-home order attempted to take on the state’s election processes, but his challenge was short-lived.

In a request for a restraining order first filed Sunday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf is listed in his official capacity as a plaintiff alongside seven county residents nominated to be a presidential elector for the Republican Party. 

A second filing showed up in court records for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, according to online records. It’s not entirely clear when that filing was submitted, but it was sometime on Monday.

Western District Chief Judge Robert Jonker, a President George W. Bush nominee, denied the motion by 3:45 p.m. Monday.

Jonker noted “the Applications fail to demonstrate an entitlement to ex parte emergent relief even assuming an action has properly commenced. The Applications themselves are not verified.”

His denial goes on to say that the “Plaintiffs’ Applications invite the Court to make speculative leaps towards a hazy and nebulous inference that there has been numerous instances of election fraud and that Defendants are destroying the evidence. There is simply nothing of record to infer as much, much less conclude that irreparable injury will occur before the defendants can be heard.”

FILING QUESTIONS MACHINES, MARKERS

“Dar Leaf, the Barry County Sheriff, is aware experts have determined markers used in conjunction with Dominion voting machines, Dominion voting machines connected with the internet, in addition to numerous other concerns related to Dominion voting machines, likely impacts the accuracy of the election and his office intends to conduct a full investigation into reports,” Leaf’s filing stated. 

The exhibit attached to that paragraph is a February 2019 notice related to a review of the technology in Texas, which pointed to concerns that ultimately led to the state deciding not to use Dominion technology. 

The filing went on to ask the court to order the state “to preserve and maintain all election data, instruments, machines, and materials, electronic or otherwise.” It also wanted an “immediate order to impound all the voting machines and software in Michigan for expert inspection by the Plaintiffs, and any other relief the Court deems appropriate to preserve election evidence.”

Relevant election data is always preserved, despite a memorandum circulated last week that has been used to allege Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is ordering election administrators to purge data. Benson rebutted the claims, saying that everything needed for audits is kept.

That clarification has been added to the growing list of fact checks on the state’s election security website.

The Leaf filing cited a different lawsuit filed late last month that became known as “the Kraken.” That suit, brought by conservative attorney Sidney Powell, was dismissed Monday morning for being “less about achieving the relief Plaintiffs seek—as much of that relief is beyond the power of this Court—and more about the impact of their allegations on People’s faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government.”

Affidavits included in the effort supported by Leaf mainly questioned the use of Sharpie-type markers being used at the polls, a concern that was previously addressed by Republican Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons, who explained they don’t cause any problems during tabulation.

News 8 contacted the Barry County clerk Monday afternoon to discuss the same concerns, but had not heard back as of 4:30 p.m.

Another assertion questioned the way in which results were reported after the polls closed. The specific affidavit, written by Jada Chadwick, pointed to Eaton County’s results being reported before Barry County’s.

Eaton County does not use Dominion technology. Records show the county uses Hart InterCivic as a vendor. 

“I have no idea if my vote was even counted,” Chadwick’s affidavit concludes. 

Clerks across the state have previously explained that because precinct and absentee counting board tabulators aren’t connected to the internet, it takes time to get machines’ data drive to the clerk’s office, which is then uploaded online as unofficial results.

Two other Barry County residents, Yvette and Joseph Peterman, wrote that they received unsolicited absentee ballots. Yvette Peterman’s affidavit noted she got rid of them. 

Additionally, six other affidavits from residents who live in the metro Detroit area were filed in the application. They, too, focus on the markers being used at the polls and a few claim multiple absentee ballots were sent to certain people. It does not appear anyone took photos or filed copies of those alleged duplicates alongside their affidavits, according to what’s available through online court records. 

“Dar Leaf, the Barry County Sheriff, is responsible for investigating, pursuing any illegal activity including election law,” a portion of filing stated. 

As of Monday afternoon, the sheriff had not responded to News 8’s request for comment. In a brief call, filing attorney Stefanie Lambert said she would get back to News 8. She had not called back as of 4:30 p.m.

A spokesperson for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told News 8 the office does not comment on pending litigation. 

“This has not been served yet, but when it is, we will review the filing and respond in court,” a spokesperson for the Michigan attorney general wrote Monday morning in response to a News 8 request. 

Additionally, Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt told News 8 she has not reviewed or seen any election-related complaints and would need time to review the suit. 

RECENT CRITICISM OF LEAF

Previously, the prosecutor criticized Leaf for initially claiming those charged in the alleged plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer may have a legal right to attempt a citizen’s arrest.

“Sheriff Leaf is not a lawyer, nor is he licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan, yet he inaccurately cited a law that is inapplicable and is meant to aid the very citizens and law enforcement he is sworn to protect. As a prosecutor, I find this concerning,” Pratt wrote in part in October

The sheriff’s response, which he later walked back, and subsequent finding that two of the defendants, brothers Michael and William Null, were on stage with him during remarks he made at a May anti-shutdown rally in downtown Grand Rapids led to calls for his resignation. He declined to do so.

Leaf ran unopposed last month to be re-elected Barry County sheriff.

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