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In Trump's lawsuit in Arizona:

A Trump campaign attorney conceded in court on Thursday morning that he tried to enter hundreds of dodgy form-filed affidavits into evidence, even though their own investigation found that a subset of the sworn statements that they received were filled with lies and “spam.”

“This is concerning,” [said] Judge Daniel Kiley, ...

... The Trump campaign said it excluded the submissions of those who swore to lies, but they included the ones they could not prove were lying into evidence.

Judge Kiley replied that this did not show the remaining affidavits are trustworthy.

“That just shows you cannot disprove what’s asserted,” Kiley noted.

Does a lawyer ordinarily need to take steps to determine that the contents of an affidavit are actually true before submitting it (rather than merely excluding ones determined to be false)? If not, what is the reasoning behind the judge requiring it here? Trump's lawyer may have collected the text of the affidavits via an online form, but he then printed them and had them signed under penalty of perjury by the affiants, which to my non-lawyer sensibilities makes them no different than any other affidavits.

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    If they can't demonstrate that the affidavits are true, they are as useful and reliable in evidence as the ones known to be false - not at all. – Nij Nov 14 '20 at 3:09
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To witness an affidavit?

No.

However, ...

An affidavit is testimony-in-chief of a witness.

Either:

  • that testimony is going to be tested under cross-examination. So, the lawyer that presents it better be pretty sure that their witness will not look like a liar. Or
  • for reasons of judicial efficiency the evidence will not be tested. If so, the judge or jury will decide how much weight to give that evidence. A jury does not have to give reasons for who they believe and who they don’t; a judge does.

As to your question ...

The judge wants to know because these affidavits will not be tested because a decision has to be made very quickly; before the Arizona has to certify their votes. Therefore the judge has to use other methods to decide how much weight to give these affidavits.

Correct answer: not a lot.

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Does a lawyer ordinarily need to take steps to determine that the contents of an affidavit are actually true before submitting it (rather than merely excluding ones determined to be false)?

Depends on the role of the lawyer. There can be two:

  1. Lawyer who simply takes the affidavit from the person giving/swearing it. Whoever has got this affidavit can then use it in court for any purpose.

  2. Lawyer who presents the affidavit before court. This does not need to be the same lawyer who took the affidavit (does not need to be a lawyer at all actually).

So, for a lawyer in the 1st role the answer is no.

For a lawyer in the 2nd role it is by all means a good idea to be actually sure/believe that the contents are true. Otherwise, if a litigant does not fully believe evidence in his favor, how can he come any close to convincing the judge?

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