Wednesday, February 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Facing a $175,000 sanction over election suit, Trump attorney files appeal

Although attorney Lin Wood said he had not participated in the Michigan lawsuit intended to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election, the judge said his claims were not credible in her August sanctions order.

(CN) — A day after a federal judge in Michigan imposed more than $175,000 in sanctions on a group of attorneys who filed a suit attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election, one of them has appealed.

In August, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker had strong words for the attorneys she said deceived the court in order to push forward the “Kraken” suit alleging fraud in the 2020 presidential election but was actually an attempt to undermine faith in democracy. In that 110-page order, Parker ordered the nine attorneys to take continuing legal education and referred them to the disciplinary authorities of state bar associations for possible disbarment.

On Thursday, Parker added dollar figure to the sanctions, ordering the nine attorneys to pay the attorney fees for the city of Detroit and state of Michigan officials.

On Friday, attorney Lin Wood filed a notice saying he was appealing Parker’s final judgment to the Sixth Circuit.

The one-sentence notice was sparse on details. Wood said in an email the lawsuit in Michigan was the work of attorney Sidney Powell, and he was not involved with it.

In early August, Wood had argued there was no proof that he participated in the litigation and he was not properly served with Detroit’s motion for sanctions.

It was an argument Parker rejected in her August opinion. Pointing to the posts he made on social media and assertions he made before other courts, Parker declared Wood was “not credible” and was only then trying to put distance between himself and the suit as the specter of sanctions loomed.

Parker awarded almost $22,000 of the sanction amount to the state of Michigan and about $153,000 for the attorneys representing Detroit.

The six-figure sanction was reasonable, Parker wrote, given the amount of work the attorneys for Michigan and Detroit spent on the sanctions motion addressing “constantly shifting arguments and frivolous assertions” made by the attorneys who brought the suit.

“The Court found sanctions necessary to deter such dangerous behavior in the future,” Parker wrote in her 27-page order. “For these reasons, it was perhaps as important for the City’s counsel to prepare and present their arguments for sanctions in response to such conduct as it was to present the City’s defenses to Plaintiffs’ claims.”

Parker also noted Wood objected to the hourly rate of $292.50 charged by one of Detroit’s attorneys, which she said was reasonable given the median hourly rates of attorneys practicing in, say, Detroit.

In a statement, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the monetary sanction held further accountable the attorneys who brought the frivolous lawsuit.  

“While there is likely no amount of money that can undo the damage they caused, I am happy to see these sanctions handed down,” Nessel said.

Professor Rick Hasen, an expert in election law at University of California Irvine, said while he hopes the sanctions imposed by courts over attorneys’ false claims of rigged and stolen elections would give others pause when practicing before the courts, he suspects the sanctions will be used to make fundraising appeals.

“But some of these people are shameless and will simply use the sanctions as further evidence that the system is stacked against them,” Hasen wrote in an email.

Parker noted in her order the fundraising off the “Kraken” suit has been ongoing.

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys, many of whom seek donations from the public to fund lawsuits like this one … have the ability to pay this sanction,” she wrote.

David Fink of the firm Fink Bressack, who represents Detroit in the election matter, said some of the most important elements of Parker’s sanctions were meted out in August, where the court called out the conduct of the attorneys who brought the suit and explained why she thought sanctions were needed.

The costs awarded this week, Fink said, helps prevent the public from having to pay the cost in defending against the suit.

“We're quite confident that the judge issued a well-reasoned opinion based upon a thorough understanding of the facts and a clear description of the relevant law,” Fink said. “I would be stunned if any part of the ruling is reversed.”

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Loading
Loading...