(Not sure if this should be on the Law.SE)

Per title. Most of the news coverage I've seen have said the challenges are bad, such as this recent one on the result of a challenge in Pennsylvania.

"One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption," he wrote. "Instead, this court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations ... unsupported by evidence.

Second example:

Russell J. Ramsland Jr., a cybersecurity worker and an expert witness in the case, filed an affidavit Wednesday claiming that his company had uncovered evidence of inconsistencies in electronic voting machines. But the inconsistencies he claimed to identify were in districts in Michigan, not Georgia.

The affidavit also listed a number of towns and counties in which Ramsland’s analysis ostensibly showed that the number of votes cast exceeded the number of eligible voters. But most, if not all, of the places Ramsland listed appeared to be townships and counties in Minnesota, not Michigan.

Taken at face value this would imply that the legal cases are really bad, effectively wasting the courts' time. That in turn implies that the judges would've handed down a frivolous litigation judgement with associated penalties for the plaintiffs. But if that has happened, I've not seen it reported in the media. Why?

A first guess is that there is no law against frivolous litigation in the US, but Wikipedia seems to indicate that's not the case.

  • 2
    Haven't they tossed them out? Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 0:58
  • @NumberFile right, but as far as I can tell, there've been no penalties for the plaintiffs (which ought to apply if the cases are frivolous).
    – Allure
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 1:11
  • You link to some Federal statues (mostly targeting tax evasion), but practically all cases were in state courts. I don't know if US states have equivalent "frivolous lawsuit" standards. The q is better suited to law.SE as from a political point of view it doesn't matter much if Trump's lawyers get disbarred thereafter. Most Trump election lawsuits have been dismissed quickly. Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 4:27
  • Do note that there have been some attempts to have Trump's lawyers disbarred hudsonreporter.com/2020/11/20/… however such proceedings are not adjudicated off the cuff when a silly lawsuit is rejected, i.e. there's some due process, and presumably there's some benefit of the doubt accorded to lawyers. Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 4:31
  • 1
    And appanretly that kind of standard won't be met by Trump's meritless lawsuits law.com/njlawjournal/2020/11/11/… Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 4:58

2 Answers 2


First, while most US court systems do have rules against frivolous lawsuits, most judges are loathed to employ them because the punishment is that the vexatious litigant would be denied the use of courts for when they do actually have a case of merit. Declaring someone a vexatious litigant also does not 100% block someone from filing suits. Normally they can file if a judge or officer of the court (i.e. a lawyer) signs off on the case. Since most lawyers won't touch the kind of cases that vexatious litigants tend to file, the litigant tends to be representing themselves pro se (Lawyers taking these types of cases tend to get disbarred quite quickly as they are effectively taking money from clients who they ought to know don't have a snowball's chance in hell... with global warming in full effect... in an El Nino year). Furthermore, being declared a vexatious litigant in one state does not ban you from filing in another state and most election cases at the time of writing have yet to reach the Federal Level (and even then, such a declaration is not a nationwide ban. It only bans the litigant in federal courts. All 50 states have to separately ban the litigant in their own legal system).

Secondly, while there are a number of cases over the past election that were dismissed, only a handful were filed by Trump's legal team. Many were filed by down-ballot Republicans or even voting citizens in many cases who's desired outcome just happens to align with Trump's desired outcomes. While most have been dismissed, it's wrong to say they were filed by Trump or his legal team. The right to litigate election results is quite broad as to who has the standing to file these cases and it varies from state to state.

Finally, not all cases dismissed are dismissed "with prejudice" which means that while the case in it's current state is not acceptable for a court to hear, it's not without merit to be heard once the deficiencies are amended. As an example, one early case filed and dismissed was seeking an injunction to stop the vote-counting until the court could rule on the matter of how well ballot observers could actually "observe" the ballots being counted. However, between the time the case was filed and the judge heard the case, the ballots were all counted, which meant that the relief sought by the plaintiff (i.e. Trump) was physically impossible to grant BUT the legal question of whether ballot observers were allowed to properly observe the counting is still valid, so it was dismissed "Without Prejudice" which means the plaintiff could amend the case and refile as the relief needed to be changed. Essentially the judge is willing to at least hear the arguments but cannot grant the relief for damages sought. In the U.S., Judges cannot hear cases that are moot, even if there is a valid argument to be made (to give a criminal angle to this, yes, a judge should hear the evidence that a man committed mass murder... but only if that accused mass murderer is still alive to be punished... if he's dead there's really nothing the Judge can do.).


Taken at face value this would imply that the legal cases are really bad, effectively wasting court time. This in turn implies that the judges would have handed down a frivolous litigation judgement with associated penalties for the plaintiffs. But if this has happened, I'vd not seen it reported in the news. Why?

Perhaps it depends where in the media you go looking for news on this:

I've read that more than two dozen lawsuits have been thrown out by the courts. We also have a conservative judge, Matthew Brann, in the state of Pennsylvannia, 'accusing' Trumps legal team of trying to:

disenfranchise almost seven million voters ... [by using] strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations ... unsupported by evidence.

This sounds like Brann is accusing Trumps team not only of 'frivolity', but something much worse.

And I have also heard on the BBC, that one prominent republican, the ex-Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, has called Trumps law team, 'a national embarrassment.'

  • 3
    Can you expand your answer, and explain how "I've heard someone say the legal team is an embarassment" protects their lawsuits from being ruled as frivolous? Being ruled frivolous and "been thrown out by the court" are not synonyms.
    – Peter
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 11:28
  • 1
    This doesn't seem to address the legal aspects of this question, specifically why or whether the courts haven't declared the lawsuits to be frivolous.
    – Ryan M
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 13:44

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