A federal judge on Wednesday imposed sanctions against one-time Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell and other attorneys who filed a lawsuit in Michigan seeking to overturn President Biden's victory in the 2020 election.
Judge Linda Parker said the attorneys who filed the case failed to do their due diligence to investigate alleged claims of voter fraud before filing the case the night before Thanksgiving.
"This lawsuit represents a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process," Parker wrote. "It is one thing to take on the charge of vindicating rights associated with an allegedly fraudulent election. It is another to take on the charge of deceiving a federal court and the American people into believing that rights were infringed, without regard to whether any laws or rights were in fact violated. This is what happened here."
Parker ordered the attorneys to pay the state of Michigan and city of Detroit's legal fees and complete continuing legal education. Parker also ordered the court's clerk to give a copy of the decision to the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission and the appropriate disciplinary authority where each attorney is admitted to practice to refer "the matter for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment."
"The attorneys who filed the instant lawsuit abused the well-established rules applicable to the litigation process by proffering claims not backed by law; proffering claims not backed by evidence (but instead, speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion); proffering factual allegations and claims without engaging in the required prefiling inquiry; and dragging out these proceedings even after they acknowledged that it was too late to attain the relief sought," Parker wrote.
"And this case was never about fraud—it was about undermining the People's faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so," Parker added.
The original complaint contained a litany of false claims, including that Dominion Voting Systems was founded to help Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Dominion's CEO wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal last November and asserted that the company "has no ties to Hugo Chávez, the late dictator of Venezuela" and "has never been involved in Venezuelan elections."
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and lawyers for Detroit asked Parker to impose sanctions against the attorneys who filed the case earlier this year.
"I'm pleased to see that the Court has ensured there is accountability for the attorneys who perpetuated meritless arguments in court," Nessel said in a statement Wednesday. "It has remained abundantly clear from the outset that this lawsuit aimed to do nothing more than undermine our democratic process."
The lawsuit filed by Powell and others in November asked Parker to order Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and other state officials to de-certify the election results. Parker denied the request in December and said the case was asking the court to "ignore the will of millions of voters."
Mr. Biden won Michigan by more than 150,000 votes in November.
During a hearing in July, Powell said she practiced law to the highest standards and defended filing the case. The Trump campaign distanced itself from Powell after she held a news conference in November claiming millions of votes had been switched by electronic systems.
Other attorneys who were sanctioned and face potential disbarment include Lin Wood, Emily Newman, Julia Haller, Brandon Johnson, Scott Hagerstrom, Howard Kleinhendler, Gregory Rohl and Stefanie Lynn Junttila.
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