A Michigan federal judge sanctioned nine pro-Donald Trump attorneys on Wednesday, saying they had abused the court system and spread conspiracy theories when they filed a lawsuit attempting to overturn the state’s 2020 election results.
U.S. District Judge Linda Parker wrote that the Trump lawyers had attempted to sue in “bad faith and for improper purpose” in a scathing, 110-page ruling, adding that they had worked to deceive the American public.
The attorneys named in the order include Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, two prominent conservatives who were mouthpieces for the former president’s attempts to undercut the results of the election, which his opponent Joe Biden won by more than 7 million votes.
“This lawsuit represents a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process. It is one thing to take on the charge of vindicating rights associated with an allegedly fraudulent election,” the judge wrote. “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 said.
Shortly after Biden was declared the winner of Michigan by about 154,000 votes, Powell and Wood filed a lawsuit and called on the courts to decertify the state’s results and impound voting machines. Parker ruled that the Michigan suit was “stunning in its scope and breathtaking in its reach,” calling some of the attorney’s claims “fantastical.”
The lawsuit was one of four legal actions known as the “Kraken” suits that featured bizarre conspiracy theories related to Dominion Voting Systems ballot machines. There is no evidence of any widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, and Dominion has also sued Powell and others, seeking more than $1 billion in damages.
Shortly after the Michigan suit failed, officials on behalf of the state and the city of Detroit filed for sanctions to be imposed against Powell, Wood and the other Trump-allied attorneys.
Parker agreed with the penalties, saying the lawyers had “scorned their oath” and “flouted the rules” of the judiciary. On Wednesday, she told the state of Michigan and city of Detroit to determine how much it cost them to defend the lawsuit and ordered Powell and her colleagues to attend continuing legal education related to election law. The judge also said the ruling will be sent to states where the attorneys are licensed to determine if they should be disbarred or face other consequences.
“Individuals may have a right — within certain bounds — to disseminate allegations of fraud unsupported by law or fact in the public sphere,” the judge wrote. “But attorneys cannot exploit their privilege and access to the judicial process to do the same.”
Parker continued: “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.”