Trump's clownish lawyers were never fighting serious legal battles; they were using the courts and the media coverage that ensued to plant doubt in the minds of citizens about the efficacy and legitimacy of democracy itself. And a federal judge understands why that's so serious-- and why those lawyers need to be held accountable. I'm not a lawyer, but you don't have to be to understand what this means (part of a 110 page ruling for the judge):
Bulwark contributor Kimberly Wehle, though, is a lawyer-- and beyond. She's a former assistant U.S. Attorney, a law professor and the author of How to Read The Constitution-- And Why. She seemed very happy when Judge Linda Parker decided a slap on the wrist is not what is merited in the proceedings against the circus performers like Lin Wood and Sidney Powell. They haven't been disbarred yet... but the process is in motion. and their shenanigans-- the Big Lie lawsuits-- are going to cost them personally.
The judge's order, wrote Wehle, concludes the last of four frivolous lawsuits in Michigan alone were simply "seeking to impugn the results of the 2020 presidential election favoring Joe Biden. Although these kinds of sanctions are relatively rare, the decision is a shot across the bow to the likes of Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and any other peddlers of Trump’s Big Lie about the election who plan to tout their snake oil in the federal courts in future elections. It also means that other courts-- including state courts, which have at their disposal equivalent sanctions rules designed to disincentivize unethical or sloppy lawyering-- might follow suit regarding this particular group of lawyers. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governing litigation in federal courts require attorneys to certify through their signatures that any filings in court have a good faith basis in fact and law, and that they are not being filed for an improper purpose. What’s more, the rules preclude a 'blind ignorance' defense, specifically mandating that lawyers conduct reasonable inquiries into the facts and the law before filing papers. If attorneys violate this rule-- known as Rule 11-- they can be sanctioned with orders to pay the other side’s attorneys’ fees spent batting away baseless claims or to pay monetary penalties to the court. They can even be ordered to take a review course in legal ethics or to apologize in writing. Rule 11 gives judges significant leeway here; the goal is to deter bad behavior across the bar going forward. The Kraken lawyers brazenly and repeatedly violated Rule 11 every which way and back."
How did Wood, Powell, and their co-counsel do this? Parker explains: They “proffer[ed] claims not backed by law; . . . not backed by evidence (but instead, speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion); . . . 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.” Here’s the kicker (italics are by the court): “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.”
...Judge Parker ordered Team Kraken to “reimburse the State Defendants and the City [of Detroit] for the reasonable fees and costs incurred to defend this action.” What this means is that the cadre of government lawyers who toiled on the taxpayer dime to defend this garbage lawsuit can tally up the many hundreds of hours they spent on this action and send Lin Wood and Sidney Powell the bill. Given how spectacularly awful the plaintiffs’ lawyers were—“claim[ing] violations of Michigan election law without a thorough understanding of what the law requires”—the judge went even further and imposed “mandatory continuing legal education” on them. In other words, they’re off to remedial law school.
Perhaps most serious is the judge’s directive that the conduct “warrants a referral for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment to the appropriate disciplinary authority for every state bar and federal court in which each attorney is admitted.” Rudy Giuliani suffered a similar fate with the suspension of his law license in two jurisdictions (so far)-- New York and D.C.-- over such shenanigans, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson have already initiated grievances against these lawyers with Michigan bar authorities. In Arizona, 21 attorneys are facing an ethics complaint for going to court at the behest of Donald Trump and the Arizona Republican Party to thwart the 2020 election, as well. And Wood is the subject of an additional probe by the State Bar of Georgia.
As for the possibility of other court-ordered money penalties, thus far Powell and her colleagues are facing sanctions in a Wisconsin federal court, where Gov. Tony Evers is seeking over $100,000 in fees in connection with a Big Lie lawsuit they filed in that state. Powell and Giuliani are also mired in defamation lawsuits filed by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic for their attacks on the integrity of the companies’ voting machines.
Aside from having been one of the best members of Congress in our lifetimes, Alan Grayson is an extremely successful attorney-- and no fan of the Kraken Lawyers. "'Fact-finding' is at the core of what courts do-- you can’t get the law right unless you have the facts right," he told me this evening. "Compare that to Trumpist politics, where a President can lie his hindquarters off, day after day for four years, and never suffer for it at all. During impeachment and after the election, what Trump’s lawyers tried to do was to transpose Trump’s strong preference for lies over truth into a courthouse setting. The System ALWAYS defends itself, and that’s exactly what this judge did here, very clearly and directly. She said to Trump’s liars-- scratch that, lawyers-- what Dikembe Mutombo used to say, when the other team drove toward the basket and he blocked the shot: 'Not in My House!'"
Giuliani has already had his law license suspended in New York and DC. He is widely expected to be permanently disbarred. It's likely that Powell and Wood will be as well.