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Federal Judge Sanctions Sidney Powell and Others Who Sued to Overturn Michigan Election Results

By Laura Temme, Esq. | Last updated on

Sidney Powell and other lawyers connected to a Michigan lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election have been sanctioned by a federal judge, who called the suit a "historic and profound abuse of the judicial process."

Judge Linda Parker of Michigan's Eastern District held that, regardless of whether there was fraud in the 2020 election in the state of Michigan, the attorneys who filed the lawsuit "abused the well-established rules" of litigation and proffered claims that were not backed by law.

The Election That Just Wouldn't End

In the 2020 general election, a record-breaking 5.5 million residents cast their votes in Michigan. The day after Election Day, Joe Biden was declared the winner in the state with around 150,000 more votes than Donald Trump.

Three weeks later, the night before Thanksgiving, attorneys Sidney Powell, Scott, Hagerstrom, and Gregory J. Rohl filed a lawsuit against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and the Michigan Board of State Canvassers.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs alleged three violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and one violation of Michigan's Election Code. They asked the court to decertify the state's election results and order the defendants to declare Donald Trump the winner of the election.

On December 7, 2020, the court declined to grant relief, noting, "this lawsuit seems to be less about achieving the relief Plaintiffs seek...and more about the impact of their allegations on People's faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government." The Court characterized the suit as a demand "to ignore the will of millions of voters," which the Court said it "cannot, and will not, do."

"This Lawsuit Should Never Have Been Filed."

On August 25, 2021, Judge Parker issued a strongly-worded admonishment of Powell and the other attorneys involved in the case, saying:

"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."

Judge Parker awarded sanctions, finding the pro-Trump lawyers "unreasonably and vexatiously" multiplied proceedings and failed to dismiss when their claims became moot. She also recommended that state disciplinary authorities consider disbarring Powell and the other lawyers, or at least requiring they take classes on election law:

"[G]iven the deficiencies in the pleadings, which claim violations of Michigan election law without a thorough understanding of what the law requires, and the number of failed election-challenge lawsuits that Plaintiffs' attorneys have filed, the Court concludes that the sanctions imposed should include mandatory continuing legal education in the subjects of pleading standards and election law."

She concluded that they filed their lawsuit in bad faith and for an improper purpose:

"[T]his case was never about fraud - it was about undermining the People's faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so."

Access this opinion and thousands more with a free trial of Westlaw Edge.

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