The nine pro-Trump lawyers from the Detroit election lawsuit have been sanctioned. I previously wrote about these sanctions here. In a court of appeals decision, the Sixth Circuit found that the lawyers, Sidney Powell and others, had lodged a “whole raft” of baseless claims alleging hostile foreign governments had accessed Dominion voting machines.
The Sixth Circuit found numerous problems with the lawsuit, including:
- A claim that Dominion was founded to help former Venezuela President Hugo Chavez. That claim was based on purported Dominion whistleblower report. But, that report concerned a different voting machine company.
- The suit relied on an expert who had allegedly served with the 305th Military Intelligence [type of unit not identified]. But, in reality, the expert had dropped out of an entry level Intelligence course after seven months. And, his report did not address issues with the machines. His report simply addressed issues with the voting system’s public website.
- Another expert claimed a background in “advanced converged telecom, highly advanced semiconductor materials, hospitality, commercial real estate development & operation.” He also said he had operated “Europe’s highest grossing Tex-Mex restaurant.” Those qualifications for an election lawsuit, noted the court, were questionable on their face.
- An expert’s opinion about “unexpected” gains by Biden in some large counties caused the lawyers to wrongly claim that 190,000 likely fraudulent votes were cast.
- The suit relied on a weak claim made by Matt Breynard. But, Breynard’s opinion “came in the form of four tweets, each 280 characters or less,” said the Sixth Circuit. Mr. Breynard claimed to have conducted a “multistate phone survey data of 248 Michigan voters,” leading yet another expert to make the unreliable assertion that the results showed that “approximately 30,000 Michigan mail-in ballots were lost, and approximately 30,000 more were fraudulently recorded.”
And, the IT Consultant used by the plaintiffs claimed Dominion voting machines resulted in some 280,000 illegal votes cast in four Michigan counties. But, the Dominion voting machines were not used in two of those counties. And, he claimed the counties used a ballot marking system that was actually used by no county in Michigan.
The court of appeals did disagree with the lower court judge that the entire suit was sanctionable. The Sixth Circuit believed it was acceptable practice to use a lawsuit as a vehicle to frame a public discussion.
The court found all nine lawyers involved in the suit were jointly and severally liable for the attorneys fees. But, the Sixth Circuit did agree that the participation of two of the nine lawyers was so minimal that should not be sanctioned. The court noted that the defendant gave the plaintiffs an opportunity to abandon their frivolous claims, but they declined. See the ABA Bar Journal report regarding this decision here.
It is one thing to be sanctioned in federal court. But, for those sanctions to be forever enshrined in an appellate decision is embarrassing for any lawyer. We can only wonder at what motivated them to get so involved in frivolous claims.