Legal arguments born from an internet blackhole, filed to foment fear and spread in an effort to undermine democracy cannot go unpunished, attorneys for the city of Detroit argue in a new legal filing.
The blistering critique from David Fink and his team could be one of the final filings U.S. District Judge Linda V. Parker reviews before deciding whether to sanction Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and other attorneys involved in the so-called Michigan “Kraken” election lawsuit.
“This lawsuit is the dangerous product of an online feedback loop, with these attorneys citing ‘legal precedent’ derived not from a serious analysis of case law, but from the rantings of conspiracy theorists sharing amateur analysis and legal fantasy in their social media echo chamber,” Fink wrote in a 20-page brief.
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Powell, Wood and seven other attorneys played various roles in crafting and filing a federal lawsuit last fall in Michigan that alleged massive voter fraud. The suit asked Parker to force Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to overturn the state’s election results showing President Joe Biden won and award its electoral college votes to Trump.
The suit relied on conspiracies, lies and misleading information to support its claim. Powell and her team filed similar suits in other states, where they also failed to gain any traction.
Fink and lawyers for the state of Michigan asked Parker to punish Powell and the other attorneys involved, arguing their lawsuit relied on easily debunked material in an effort to prevent the peaceful transition of power.
“There are no words to describe how detached these lawyers are from the basic rules of professional responsibility, civility and ethical legal representation. They must not be given the opportunity to further abuse our judicial system and to undermine our democracy,” Fink wrote.
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Powell, Wood and their team offered various defenses for the filing. They chiefly argue they had reason to believe the accusations included in their lawsuit were valid, including the fact that they were spread by Trump, and they could have properly tested their claims had the court allowed them a hearing to present their evidence.
During a recent hearing, Powell said only herself and her attorney, Howard Kleinhendler, crafted the filings, in an apparent effort to distance other attorneys from punishment. Some attorneys also argued they were not properly made aware of the proceedings, while Wood has repeatedly said he wasn’t involved in the lawsuit at all.
Fink and his team likened these arguments to “shifting sands,” noting what appear to be conflicting statements from Powell, Wood and others. They noted Powell’s team could not accurately describe what was in their own lawsuit and at times cited antiquated case precedent.
Kleinhendler cited a case from 1878 called U.S. v. Throckmorton as a key girder for his argument. He argued that a phrase included in the ruling from the case, “fraud vitiates everything,” shows Parker that her court has the authority to take sweeping action if fraud or other relevant misconduct is found.
Not only does Kleinhendler misinterpret this ruling, Fink argues, but by suggesting it is relevant, he is relying on positions parroted on social media and not sound legal footing.
“On first impression, plaintiffs’ citation to an obscure 143-year-old Supreme Court case that does not support their position is puzzling; Throckmorton was last cited by the Supreme Court 75 years ago,” Fink wrote.
“That Throckmorton has made the leap from uninformed social media commentary to citation by plaintiffs’ counsel as the legal basis for this far-reaching and unfounded lawsuit demonstrates that this suit has been driven by partisan political posturing, entirely disconnected from the law.”
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Fink also noted that Wood told Parker he had no involvement in the Michigan case, but he’d previously told courts in Delaware and New York and posted online that he had a role in the lawsuit and was aware he faced possible sanctions.
“Wood’s sudden modesty about his participation in Michigan is an anomaly. Throughout the post-election litigation, Wood took a high profile, supporting challenges to the election results and even endorsing martial law,” Fink wrote.
“As long as he thought he was safe and others were doing the dirty work of protecting him, he never attempted to disavow his participation in this case. The record is clear. Lin Wood takes credit for this case when it serves his purposes, but he runs and hides when faced with the consequences.”
Parker could rule on sanctions at any time. Possible punishments include anything from fines to being banned from practicing in the Eastern District of Michigan.
Contact Dave Boucher at email@example.com or 313-938-4591. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Boucher1.