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Judge sanctions Trump-aligned lawyers who challenged Michigan's election results

Judge sanctions Trump-aligned lawyers who challenged Michigan's election results
A district judge on Wednesday ordered Sidney Powell and eight other lawyers aligned with former President Donald Trump be sanctioned over their lawsuit challenging Michigan's 2020 election results. Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE

Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Wednesday ordered sanctions against the attorneys who backed President Donald Trump and his election fraud conspiracies for abusing the legal system by filing and then following through on litigation challenging Michigan's 2020 election result.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker chastised the cadre of conservative lawyers including Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood, calling the lawsuit they filed against Michigan's election of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States "a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process."

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"It is one thing to take on the charge of vindicating rights associated with an allegedly fraudulent election. It is another to take on the charge of deceiving a federal court and the American people into believing that rights were infringed, without regard for whether any laws or rights were in fact violated," she said in her 110-page opinion. "This is what happened here."

Parker lambasted the attorneys for abusing well-established rules of litigation through presenting claims not supported by law, claims not backed by evidence and allegations that were not researched while dragging out the legal proceedings despite acknowledging that it was too late for them to receive the relief that they had asked the court to grant them.

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"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 said.

The lawsuit filed by the Trump-aligned lawyers in late November accused Michigan election and elected officials of conducting a widespread scheme to fraudulently manipulate the vote count to ensure that Biden was elected the next president, asking the court to certify Trump the winner of the election.

Biden won the state by more than 150,000 votes.

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The lawyers said their claims were supported by dozens of eyewitnesses and "statistical anomalies and mathematical impossibilities."

After the lawsuit was filed, the city of Detroit, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and others asked the court to sanction the lawyers, saying their case, among other issues, was filed for an improper purpose and that they "unreasonably and vexatiously multiplied the proceedings in this litigation by failing to dismiss the case" when their claims, which they either knew or should have known were frivolous, became moot.

During a hearing on the possibility of sanctions last month, Powell defended the lawsuit as having been built upon extensive research and that their claims were thoroughly investigated.

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"We filed a massive and detailed complaint in federal court that doesn't even require us to append affidavits to it," she said. "The very fact we filed 960 pages of affidavits with the complaint shows due diligence on our part."

Parker responded during the hearing that volume "doesn't equate with legitimacy or veracity."

In her opinion on Wednesday, Parker said the lawyers "have scorned their oath flouted the rules and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way."

For doing so, she ordered the attorneys be sanctioned, to jointly pay the fees and costs incurred by the defendants during the case and for each lawyer to complete at least 12 hours of continuing legal education, at least six hours of pleading standards and six hours of election law, within the next six months.

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