Judge orders lawyers to pay $187,000 in legal fees over ‘frivolous’ 2020 election lawsuit

‘They are experienced lawyers who should have known better,’ says Magistrate Judge N Reid Neureiter. ‘They need to take responsibility for their misconduct’

Nathan Place
New York
Tuesday 23 November 2021 17:50
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Dominion Voting Systems sues Rudy Giuliani

A federal judge has ordered two lawyers to pay almost $187,000 in legal fees over what he called their “frivolous” lawsuit challenging the 2020 election.

“They are experienced lawyers who should have known better,” Magistrate Judge N Reid Neureiter wrote in a facebook-others/abcbfd25-4a22-43da-8837-c17bc83b8b72/?itid=lk_interstitial_manual_5">scathing order. “They need to take responsibility for their misconduct.”

The two Colorado attorneys, Gary Fielder and Ernest John Walker, filed a class-action lawsuit last December charging that Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook, and various public officials had conspired to steal the election from former president Donald Trump.

Judge Neureiter called the case so “unverified” that it should never have been brought, and ordered Mr Fielder and Mr Walker to pay $187,000 to cover the defendants’ legal costs.

“As officers of the Court, these attorneys have a higher duty and calling that requires meaningful investigation before prematurely repeating in court pleadings unverified and uninvestigated defamatory rumors that strike at the heart of our democratic system and were used by others to foment a violent insurrection that threatened our system of government,” the judge wrote.

The ruling is only the latest example of a lawsuit failing to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which Joe Biden won decisively in both the popular vote and the Electoral College. Since then, former president Donald Trump has relentlessly – and baselessly – insisted the election was stolen, though his campaign’s lawyers have repeatedly failed to prove this in court. One of Mr Trump’s lead lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, has seen his law licence suspended in New York and Washington, DC as a result of his part in that quixotic quest.

This week, Dominion Voting Systems welcomed Judge Neureiter’s order.

“Dominion is grateful for the court’s findings, which importantly note, ‘This lawsuit has been an abuse of the legal system and an interference with the machinery of government,’” a Dominion spokesperson said in a statement.

The case was dismissed in April this year. In August, Judge Neureiter ruled that Mr Fielder and Mr Walker had broken ethical rules by bringing it to court.

“Albeit disorganized and fantastical, the Complaint’s allegations are extraordinarily serious and, if accepted as true by large numbers of people, are the stuff of which violent insurrections are made,” the judge wrote then.

Mr Fielder has defended the sincerity of the lawsuit.

“We were never acting in bad faith,” he told The Washington Post in August. “The case has nothing to do with Donald Trump, and is concerned only with the integrity of our Presidential elections.”

The Independent has reached out to Mr Fielder and Mr Walker for comment.

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