Local election fraud defendant’s lawyer says motion to dismiss will be filed soon

After dismissing one of 20 voter fraud cases announced by Gov. Ron DeSantis in August, the attorney for one of the three Orange County defendants says he will ask a judge to do the same next week.

Roger Weeden, who is representing both Peter Washington and Michelle Stribling, says he drafted a motion to dismiss Washington’s case in advance and is waiting to see how the Miami judge would rule.

On Friday, Judge Milton Hirsch dismissed the case against Robert Lee Wood, ruling that the state does not have jurisdiction to prosecute the case because Wood registered to vote and voted in Miami-Dade County. For the state to have jurisdiction, crimes must be committed in more than one jurisdiction.

Prosecutors had argued the case was within their jurisdiction because government officials in Tallahassee had reviewed Wood’s registry, an argument the judge dismissed.

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“Neither he nor anyone on his behalf has traveled from Miami-Dade County,” Hirsch wrote.

State officials have already vowed to appeal the verdict, but the opening has been created. Weeden said the defense attorneys, many of whom represent their clients on a voluntary basis, had already emailed each other documents.

“As soon as I saw this case, I thought, ‘Well, that’s totally unusual,'” he said. “I mean, how are you going to claim two districts are involved?”

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Weeden said that if the ruling stands, it will largely knock the teeth out of the DeSantis electoral police force, as the state will no longer have the authority to prosecute the cases.

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Local prosecutors may choose to try the suspects instead, but are reluctant to do so. Simply voting is not a crime. Under Florida law, the person must know that their actions were illegal.

In the nationwide case, all 20 convicted felons said they believed they had the right to vote, and many reported that voting or law enforcement officials encouraged them to register.

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Earlier this year, Lake County prosecutors ruled that six sex offenders who voted in 2020 were unaware their actions were illegal and declined to prosecute them. Meanwhile, several people in The Villages pleaded guilty to knowingly voting twice.

Weeden said he believed he could get a hearing on his sacking motion within 10 days. Washington’s trial is currently set for February, while Stribling has no set date.

The third local defendant’s attorney, Jerry Foster, declined to comment on his case.

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