The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips after a district court in Texas had them jailed for refusing to reveal sources in an investigation into voter fraud. The pair had been gathering information and sharing details of their findings concerning alleged irregularities in the 2020 election.
Konnech Corporation filed a defamation and computer fraud lawsuit against True the Vote claiming Engelbrecht and Phillips spread slanderous rumors about the company and its CEO and that they gained data on the company unlawfully. However, after the lawsuit was filed, the company's CEO Eugene Yu was arrested on suspicion of theft of personal identifying information.
Engelbrecht and Phillips were arrested and charged with contempt of court during the defamation case proceedings.
The ruling Tuesday vacated that contempt order. The ruling read that "the record does not reveal what sort of emergency justified the district court's demand for that information before the parties could file Rule 12 motions before the defendants could file an answer, before the parties could file their initial disclosures, or before discovery could begin let alone conclude in the ordinary course.
"Much less did the district court explain what sort of emergency could warrant jailing the petitioner-defendants for not making such immediate disclosures. Rather, the district court made clear that it was imposing its disclosure requirements because it—the district court—wanted to add defendants to the lawsuit. Resp. 13; App. 188. That is not how the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure work."
True the Vote released the following statement:
"The Fifth Circuit's powerful ruling lays bare the excesses of Konnech, their attorneys, and the lower court. The impermissible demands of Konnech, which were rubber stamped by the district court, caused great harm to True the Vote as an organization, as well as Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips, who were imprisoned for over a week by Konnech and the court's actions. In addition, Engelbrecht and Phillips' rights to openly speak on matters of public interest were impeded under the color of authority. But hear them clearly today; the investigation of Konnech and their activities continues across America. Catherine and Gregg offer their profound gratitude to the Fifth Circuit's vindication and are committed more strongly than ever to defending the integrity of American elections."
Engelbrecht, and Phillips, an Alabama native, have been investigating voter fraud nationwide. Read more on the information they have discovered and about the arrest of Konnech's CEO here.
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