Michigan District Court judge Linda Parker has ruled that the lawyers who filed the election fraud case in Michigan should be sanctioned. Her 110-page ruling is extraordinary in its detail and legal reasoning.
The net result for Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and the other plaintiffs’ attorneys is that they must pay the other side’s attorneys fees, take continuing legal education classes, and face possible disciplinary actions, including possible disbarment, in their home states.
I can’t do justice to the intricacies of Judge Parker’s analysis in a brief note, but the ruling boils down to this: attorneys are responsible for what they file in court, they are presumed to know both the court rules and the laws that they are challenging and, most importantly, you never lie to the court.
The Michigan lawsuit, which contained large elements that were cut-and-pasted from other state lawsuits, had dramatic shortcomings. The most notable was the complete failure of plaintiffs’ lawyers to perform even the most basic “due diligence.” In other words, these lawyers made little or no attempt to determine whether the claims could even arguably be supported. Furthermore, even when what they were asking for in the complaint was no longer feasible, they kept the case going.
The actions of these lawyers were simply unconscionable. It is one thing to be merely incompetent. It is another entirely to purposely use the courts to promote their personal ends.
The response by some of these sanctioned lawyers and members of the right-wing media has been boring in its predictability. The brilliance of Judge Parker’s ruling is that she anticipated—and answered—the hand-wringing responses that are being spouted. From the opinion:
“Journalists”—like attorneys, Powell argued—“must be free to rely on sources they deem to be credible, without being second-guessed by irate public figures who believe that the journalists should have been more skeptical.”
Of course, Powell missed the most essential point.
Attorneys are not journalists. It therefore comes as no surprise that Plaintiffs’ attorneys fail to cite a single case suggesting that the two professions share comparable duties and responsibilities.
The Court also addressed the argument that the lawyers have First Amendment (free speech) rights that would be seriously undermined by the issuance of sanctions.