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US Federal judge grills Sidney Powell's legal team in Michigan elections sanctions case

05:41  13 july  2021
05:41  13 july  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

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'Kraken' lawyer Sidney Powell ' s ' election fraud' cases are thrown out in Michigan and Georgia Lawyer Sidney Powell was a member of President Trump' s legal team Federal judge in Michigan issued blistering opinion Monday

A federal judge grilled attorneys involved in a lawsuit that sought to overturn Michigan ' s election results during a hearing Monday over whether the lawyers should be sanctioned for their conduct in the case . "That' s what these affidavits were designed to show, that there was something wrong in Michigan , there was something wrong in Wayne County." The lengthy and crowded virtual hearing was contentious, with attorneys clashing with each other and the judge , as several filings were scrutinized one by one for their propriety.

A Michigan federal judge grilled Sidney Powell and her team of lawyers for roughly six hours Monday in response to motions to sanction the attorneys in connection with their conspiracy-laden lawsuit claiming election fraud in the state.

Sidney Powell in a dark room: Attorney Sidney Powell, a former member of President Donald Trump's legal team, speaks during a rally Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Georgia. © Ben Margot, AP Attorney Sidney Powell, a former member of President Donald Trump's legal team, speaks during a rally Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Georgia.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker heard arguments from lawyers for Detroit and Michigan for sanctioning Powell and her team, but spent most of the hearing scrutinizing the baseless allegations of fraud and misconduct leveled in the lawsuit, which involved several attorneys, including three from Michigan: Scott Hagerstrom, Stefanie Lambert Junttila and Greg Rohl.

Lawyers retreat from pro-Trump election suit

  Lawyers retreat from pro-Trump election suit At a hearing on possible sanctions over the Michigan case, some attorneys downplayed their roles.Two of the most prominent attorneys in the pro-Trump camp — Dallas-based Sidney Powell and Atlanta-based L. Lin Wood — are among the lawyers who brought the unsuccessful suit and whose conduct is under scrutiny by U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker.

Sidney Powell team doubles down on debunked election claims in attempt to avoid sanctions . A court should not sanction Sidney Powell and other attorneys involved in filing a Michigan election lawsuit filled with conspiracies and unfounded allegations because, among other reasons, they say in their response that the allegations are provable. Powell and her team have not provided any credible evidence to support any of their incorrect claims that the Michigan election results were fraudulent, instead presenting false reports that rely on conjecture, inaccurate information or misleading testimony.

Election -Fraud Conspiracy Questioned in Powell ’ s Michigan Suit. Former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell and other lawyers who sued to overturn the 2020 election result were grilled by a federal judge in Michigan weighing whether to sanction them for recklessly bringing false claims about voter fraud in the swing state. The city of Detroit is seeking sanctions as well as disciplinary proceedings against Powell and others, including outspoken trial lawyer Lin Wood, alleging they failed to vet the affidavits and expert reports they submitted as evidence of a vast and widely debunked

Parker repeatedly questioned whether the attorneys properly investigated the claims of fraud and misconduct presented in affidavits included in the lawsuit before submitting them to the court.

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"My concern is that counsel here has submitted affidavits to suggest and make the public believe that there was something wrong with the election. And that is what this is all about. That's what these affidavits are designed to do, to show that there was something wrong in Michigan, there was something wrong in Wayne County," Parker said.

The lawyers largely could not say they spoke with the people who provided the affidavits, something that appeared of concern to Parker, who used phrases such as "shocks me," "a little surprising" and "problematic."

"Submitted in bad faith": Judge smacks down Sidney Powell's "fantastical" election lawsuit

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A federal judge in Michigan today rejected former Trump attorney Sidney Powell ' s attempt to decertify that state's presidential election results, finding that her claims failed in almost every possible way. "This lawsuit seems to be less about achieving the relief Plaintiffs seek—as much of that relief The Michigan lawsuit was part of what Powell had described as a "Kraken" of overwhelming evidence that, once released, would lay waste to any remaining skepticism about the president's claim that he actually won the election . Parker was not exactly awestruck at the sight of Powell ' s hideous creature

The suits, filed by former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell , alleged a vast conspiracy to rig the election for Joe Biden. Powell ’ s first setback came in Michigan on Monday, when US District Court Judge Linda V. Parker rejected a suit asking for Joe Biden’s win in the state to be overturned, based on the theory that voting machines manufactured by Dominion – a foreign-owned company Powell will almost certainly appeal the two rulings. Outside Georgia and Michigan , the one-time Trump lawyer has similar cases ongoing in Wisconsin and Arizona, both states that recently certified Joe Biden’s win over Trump.

"I think it's wrong for an affidavit to be submitted in support ... if there's been no kind of minimal vetting," Parker said.

"If you can't determine from the plain language of the affidavit, how am I supposed to draw any kind of evidence from it?"

Parker, who essentially dismissed the underlying lawsuit in December 2020, said she would give attorneys two weeks to submit additional documents to the court before determining whether sanctions are warranted.

The Powell team attorneys regularly pushed back on the judge's questions, at times leading to contentious moments.

In this Nov. 19, 2020 file photo, Sidney Powell, right, speaks next to former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, as members of President Donald Trump's legal team, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. On Friday, June 4, 2021, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting election technology firm Dominion Voting Systems lost its lawsuits against Powell and Giuliani. Dominion’s defamation lawsuits against the pair are ongoing, according to legal records. © Jacquelyn Martin, AP In this Nov. 19, 2020 file photo, Sidney Powell, right, speaks next to former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, as members of President Donald Trump's legal team, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. On Friday, June 4, 2021, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly asserting election technology firm Dominion Voting Systems lost its lawsuits against Powell and Giuliani. Dominion’s defamation lawsuits against the pair are ongoing, according to legal records.

Attorney Donald Campbell questioned why the judge would spend time on certain questions and proclaimed "I am not a potted plant, I will represent my clients."

Sidney Powell Says Dominion 'Stupid' for Suing Her Because It Promoted Voter Fraud Claims

  Sidney Powell Says Dominion 'Stupid' for Suing Her Because It Promoted Voter Fraud Claims Pro-Trump Lawyer Sidney Powell said that Dominion Voting Systems had "only elevated my situation and promoted what I was saying by filing the lawsuit."Dominion sued Powell in January for promoting false claims that the company's voting machines electronically stuffed ballots or turned votes meant for former President Donald Trump into votes for President Joe Biden. Powell was also named as one of several defendants in a similar $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit from voting systems company Smartmatic.

Conservative attorney Sidney Powell and her legal team have been spreading a series of false statements and bizarre accusations against elections systems vendors via court filings and during various media appearances in service of their failed Kraken lawsuits. It’ s currently unclear which state( s ) Dominion is considering suing Powell and her team in – Powell is licensed to practice in Texas and Dominion’ s demand letter cites Fifth Circuit (which includes Texas) precedent. The Lone Star State, while perhaps not where Powell might or will be sued, is still an instructive and representative

Sidney Powell filed two federal court lawsuits, the so-called Kraken, in Michigan and Georgia. We covered the filing, Sidney Powell Releases “The Kraken” in Georgia and Michigan Federal Lawsuits. Both lawsuits were dismissed today. In each case , the judges issued dramatic soundbites made for media quotation — a now all-too-common federal practice that predates the election disputes.

In making the argument for sanctions, lawyers for the city of Detroit and Michigan told Parker that imperiling democracy by perpetuating lies about the 2020 presidential election warrants substantial punishment.

"In this case, the very basis of the election of the president of the United States was under attack. These folks were putting in jeopardy the safety of our republic," said David Fink, an attorney for Detroit.

More: Former Trump attorney who vowed to 'release the Kraken' facing sanction hearing in Detroit

More: Michigan AG Dana Nessel using Sidney Powell's words against her in pursuit of sanctions

The lawsuit — filed after Michigan's Nov. 3 election results were certified but before Michigan's presidential electors cast their votes for President Joe Biden — asked the court to order Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to award Michigan's 16 Electoral College votes to former President Donald Trump. He lost the state to Biden by more than 154,000 votes.

In dismissing the lawsuit, Parker suggested the intent of the legal challenge was to shake "people's faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government." Powell's team appealed Parker's ruling and in a last-ditch effort asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their case just days before Michigan's Electoral College delegates cast their votes for Biden.

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Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a motion for sanctions on behalf of Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in late January, arguing the lawsuit aimed to sow doubt in the legitimacy of the election and disenfranchise Michigan voters by peddling false information and frivolous legal claims. The motion asked the court to award attorneys' fees in the amount of $11,071.

The request followed a similar one from the city of Detroit, seeking sanctions against the Michigan GOP and local party officials, who brought the lawsuit, and their attorneys. The amount requested would cover the costs incurred by the city in the case and impose an additional financial penalty "sufficient to deter future misconduct."

In addition to Powell and the three Michigan attorneys named in the state's motion for sanctions, the city asked Parker to refer other attorneys involved to the relevant disciplinary authorities. They include L. Lin Wood, Emily Newman, Julia Haller, Brandon Johnson and Howard Kleinhendler. The city’s motion also asks Parker to refer the attorneys to the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan — where the lawsuit was filed — to initiate disbarment proceedings.

"What they filed in the first complaint, in this case, was an embarrassment to the legal profession. It was sloppy, it was unreadable .. .the fact is, this was a sloppy, careless effort," Fink said.

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Campbell presented most of the arguments for the Trump-supporting team. He said Powell, Kleinhendler and others zealously advocated for the rights of their clients and did so in a way that followed legal ethics.

Parker questioned what authority they believe she had to overturn an election and whether the attorneys actually read the documents they submitted with their legal filing.

The hearing at times devolved into procedural debates about the role each attorney had and precedent for making certain arguments.

Wood, a well-known conspiracy theorist who has lied about the election, did everything he could to distance himself from the lawsuit.

"Your honor, I just didn't have anything to do with this," Wood said, arguing he never saw the lawsuit or knew that his name would be appended to it. But Powell told Parker that she recalls asking Wood about adding his name to the lawsuit.

Wood also said he didn't learn that sanctions were being sought against him until he read his name in a media report. Fink said this is blatantly false.

More: 'The people have spoken': Michigan judge rejects lawsuit from disavowed Trump attorney

More: Michigan Republican-led investigation rejects Trump's claim that Nov. 3 election was stolen

During the hearing, Parker asked Powell's team whether they questioned the so-called expert reports filed in support of the lawsuit, including one that wildly misstated voter turnout rates in Michigan and falsely alleged votes were switched in Antrim County. Attorneys assured Parker that they had spoken with the experts and vetted the claims.

Pro-Trump lawyers ask judge to release video of Detroit sanction hearing to combat 'public mischaracterizations'

  Pro-Trump lawyers ask judge to release video of Detroit sanction hearing to combat 'public mischaracterizations' A group of seven lawyers, including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, petitioned a judge through their legal counsel on Wednesday to release the footage of a Detroit sanctions hearing on Monday over concerns about misinformation. © Provided by Washington Examiner Donald Campbell, the lawyer representing the seven pro-Trump attorneys, insisted the public release of video of the hearing that focused on whether they would face penalties for their 2020 election litigation seeking to overturn the results would help his clients "refute what they believe to be public mischaracterizations" of the proceedings, according to The Detr

Campbell said that there is no evidence that the lawyers involved had knowledge that the information provided was inaccurate. And in the case of the voter turnout report, Campbell noted that a corrected version was filed.

In response, Fink said that lawyers could have staved off the election misinformation contained in the lawsuit by the "slightest bit of due diligence." A 30-second internet search, for instance, would have made clear that turnout in Detroit was 51% and not 139%, Fink said.

"These lies were put out into the world, and when they were put out into the world, they were adopted and believed," he said.

Michigan election officials and the Free Press have repeatedly refuted and debunked many of the allegations contained in the lawsuit.

In response to a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Powell for her false statements about the election equipment manufacturer, Powell's attorneys said Powell's false assertions were protected by the First Amendment and that "no reasonable person would conclude that the statements were truly statements of fact."

Nessel filed a supplemental brief pointing to the statement as an admission by Powell that she knew her election fraud claims were misleading. In response, Junttila doubled down on Powell's defense, arguing that Powell's claims should be considered opinion, not fact.

Over eight months after Biden won the state, the legal team behind the case has continued to question the legitimacy of the election. Junttila met with Cheboygan County commissioners in May to push for an audit in the county based on debunked reports that votes were manipulated. The commission subsequently sought approval from the Bureau of Elections for an audit of the voting equipment and software to determine whether an unauthorized computer changed votes in the county Trump won.

Pro-Trump Sheriff's 'Ludicrous' Voting Probe Denounced as Private Investigators Question Clerks

  Pro-Trump Sheriff's 'Ludicrous' Voting Probe Denounced as Private Investigators Question Clerks Michigan's Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf launched the investigation despite Trump winning there by double digits.Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf has claimed, as has Trump, that there was voter fraud leading to President Joe Biden's win in the 2020 election. This claim has led the sheriff to open an investigation into voting machines in Barry County, as officials there have denounced the probe as "absolutely ridiculous and ludicrous," CBS local affiliate News Channel 3 reported on Friday.

Junttila and Rohl dispute the validity of the exhaustive Senate Oversight Committee report on the Nov. 3 election that found no evidence of widespread fraud or vote switching in Michigan. The GOP-led investigation concluded that voters should "use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain."

Chris Thomas, the former elections director for Michigan, said Monday's hearing brought much needed accountability.

"For too long post election cases have been populated with blatant untruths masquerading as facts. No one ever looks back once all shouting is over to hold lawyers accountable — until now!" Thomas tweeted.

Clara Hendrickson fact-checks Michigan issues and politics as a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Make a tax-deductible contribution to support her work at bit.ly/freepRFA. Contact her at chendrickson@freepress.com or 313-296-5743. Follow her on Twitter @clarajanehen.

Contact Dave Boucher: dboucher@freepress.com or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Federal judge grills Sidney Powell's legal team in Michigan elections sanctions case

Pro-Trump Sheriff's 'Ludicrous' Voting Probe Denounced as Private Investigators Question Clerks .
Michigan's Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf launched the investigation despite Trump winning there by double digits.Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf has claimed, as has Trump, that there was voter fraud leading to President Joe Biden's win in the 2020 election. This claim has led the sheriff to open an investigation into voting machines in Barry County, as officials there have denounced the probe as "absolutely ridiculous and ludicrous," CBS local affiliate News Channel 3 reported on Friday.

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