Judge denies request to throw out felony robocall charges

Bizar Male

A Detroit judge declined to dismiss felony charges against two right-wing political provocateurs on Tuesday, instead appearing to agree with prosecutors that comments included in a robocall could be seen as menacing and deter someone from voting. 

Third Circuit Court Judge Margaret Van Houten said the messages orchestrated by Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman that were distributed throughout Detroit included language people weighing voting by mail could find threatening. 

“It’s not whether they succeeded in deterring someone from voting, it’s whether they attempted to deter someone from voting. That is the language in the statute,” Van Houten said. 

“Certainly, the robocall itself, the language in the call could influence someone and deter them from voting by mail.”

In October, Attorney General Dana Nessel charged both men with multiple felonies, accusing them of intentionally trying to dissuade Black voters from casting a ballot in the general election. Both men have since been charged in other states and face civil lawsuits related to the robocalls as well. 

Wohl and Burkman have pleaded not guilty to the Michigan charges. 

More:Right-wing activists accused of misleading robocalls ordered to issue new robocalls

More:Michigan attorney general charges right-wing provocateurs with election felonies

Richard Cunningham, an attorney with the Office of the Michigan Attorney General, argued the case must proceed because the men clearly tried to threaten Black voters using a “dog whistle argument.”

“What was the real intent of these defendants? It was to deter people from voting,” Cunningham said. 

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