Bart Budetti thinks Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his assistants are in over their heads and wasting U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson’s time. A 75-year-old retired attorney who once found himself opposite Kobach in a legal dispute over a food bank, Budetti watched a trial unfold last week with daily confrontations and colorful references to a bazooka, red herring, icebergs, Gmail usage and the type of sandwich that can be used as fertilizer. Kobach is defending himself and the state’s voter registration law in a case that challenges his ability to prove claims of widespread fraud. Video of previously sealed testimony from Kobach’s deposition last year revealed he prepared for the eventuality of losing the case.
Other memorable moments in the trial, which resumes Monday and is in jeopardy of lasting longer than its scheduled Tuesday conclusion, involve Robinson’s frequent scolding of Kobach and his assistants. Astonished by their performance, Budetti said he felt sorry for Kobach deputy Garrett Roe and chief legal counsel Sue Becker.
“It was just mind-boggling,” Budetti said. “Those people are not trial lawyers. They may be doing their best, but they obviously don’t know what they’re doing.”
Kobach spokeswoman Samantha Poetter said Roe and Becker both have previous trial experience. The performance by Kobach’s team could have an impact on his campaign for governor, said Washburn University political science professor Bob Beatty, who likened Kobach’s combat with Robinson over his interest in illegal voting to former Attorney General Phill Kline’s interest in abortion.