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Colorado Lawyers Who Filed 'Reckless' 2020 Election Lawsuit Must Pay Rivals' Fees

DENVER (AP/CBS4) — A federal magistrate on Wednesday levied penalties against two Colorado attorneys for filing a class-action lawsuit that alleged the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

The now-dismissed suit relied on baseless conspiracy theories spread by the former president and his supporters. It named elected officials in four swing states, Facebook, the company's founder Mark Zuckerberg and Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, whose election machines were at the center of some of the most fevered speculation.

Magistrate Judge N. Reid Nureiter ruled that the two attorneys who filed the lawsuit must pay the legal fees of the defendants.


"The lawsuit put into or repeated into the public record highly inflammatory and damaging allegations that could have put individuals' safety in danger," Nureiter wrote, noting the Jan. 6 insurrection was spurred by the lies it repeated, as were threats against election and Dominion officials. "Doing so without a valid legal basis or serious independent personal investigation into the facts was the height of recklessness."

There are few recourses against false lawsuits other than penalizing lawyers for filing them. Repeated audits and recounts found no significant fraud in the presidential election. Even Trump's own administration said the election was clean.

US President Donald Trump walks from Marine One after arriving on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, October 1, 2020, following campaign events in New Jersey. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

That did not stop Trump and his allies from filing dozens of suits and continuing to insist the contest was stolen from him, a lie that inspired the crowds that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. In the end, Trump and his allies lost more than 50 of the election lawsuits.


The lawyers in the Colorado case, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest J. Walker, were not connected with other Trump lawyers — including Sidney Powell, who is one of multiple Trump-backing attorneys who face possible sanctions for an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the election results in Michigan.

Fielder and Walker said during a court hearing last month that they were trying to protect democracy.

CBS4 found a disciplinary action taken by the Colorado Supreme Court against Fielder in December 2019. It found fault in Fielder's billing practices with one client. Fielder was suspended for 366 days and given two year probation term. The suspension was stayed, meaning it was not enforced and Fielder could practice law during that time. Any violation of the probation could result in the suspension's enforcement.

Jessica E. Yates, Attorney Regulation Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court, added that Fielder is still under investigation after other cases were filed regarding 2020 election lawsuits.

"We have received a request," she wrote to CBS4, "for investigation falling within Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 242.41(f)(2)(C) pertaining to Mr. Gary Fielder, Colorado attorney registration number 19757, based on the sanctions order issued against Mr. Fielder by a federal court August 3, 2021 in O'Rourke v. Dominion Voting Systems Inc., 20-cv-03747-NRN (D. Colo.).  The complaint is in the early stages of review and investigation."

CBS4 also reached out to both Fielder and Walker for reaction to the magistrate's decision, but has received no response.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)  

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