‘Kraken’ lawyers get bill for baseless election lawsuit and are ordered to repay thousands to Michigan officials

The nine pro-Trump lawyers could still lose their licences to practise law

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Thursday 02 December 2021 23:20
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Trump's 'Kraken' ex-lawyer Sidney Powell doesn't have 'tiniest fraction' of money to payoff election lawsuits

Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and seven other lawyers who filed a frivolous lawsuit seeking to throw out Michigan’s election results will have to repay nearly $200,000 to the Michigan government officials who they had targeted with the meritless litigation.

In an order signed and released on Thursday, US District Judge Linda Parker ordered Ms Powell, Mr Wood, and attorneys Howard Kleinhendler, Gregory Rohl, Stefanie Junttila, Emily Newman, Julia Haller, Brandon Johnson, and Scott Hagerstrom to pay Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer and secretary of state Jocelyn Benson $21,964.75 for the legal expenses they incurred defending themselves from the so-called “Kraken” lawsuit, and an additional $153,285 to reimburse Detroit, Michigan for its legal fees.

Judge Parker ordered the fees to be repaid by each of the attorneys “jointly and severally,” a legal term which means the nine sanctioned attorneys will pay an equal share of the cost, which would come to around $19,472 for each lawyer.

She also ordered that the case be closed, just over a year after Ms Powell and the others filed the rambling, 75-page complaint alleging “massive” election fraud that had been “rendered virtually invisible by computer software created and run by domestic and foreign actors,” including two voting machine manufacturers — Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic — that Ms Powell and her colleagues claimed were started by deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

The case never went anywhere because Judge Parker denied the “Kraken” lawyers’ motion for emergency orders directing Ms Whitmer and Ms Benson to decertify the election results shortly after it was first filed.

But shortly after that, Ms Whitmer, Ms Benson, and other defendants in the case asked the judge to impose sanctions on the lawyers who’d filed the case under a little-used provision in the federal rules of civil procedure meant to deter egregious conduct by attorneys.

Judge Parker heard arguments as to whether she should impose the sanctions — which can range from financial penalties to recommendations for disbarment — in a 12 July virtual hearing, during which one of the pro-Trump lawyers, former Department of Housing and Urban Development adviser Julia Haller, was reduced to tears at one point as the judge questioned her and her colleagues’ conduct.

On 25 August, Judge Parker granted the motion for sanctions, calling the “Kraken” lawsuit filed by Ms Powell and her colleagues “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process”. She ordered them to pay the Michigan officials’ legal fees and ordered each of the sanctioned attorneys to be referred to their respective state bar associations for possible suspension or disbarment. 

“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,” she wrote.

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