"Submitted in bad faith": Judge smacks down Sidney Powell's "fantastical" election lawsuit

A federal judge indicated on Monday that far-right Trump attorneys Sidney Powell ann Lin Wood may be sanctioned

By Jon Skolnik

Published July 12, 2021 6:07PM (EDT)

Sidney Powell, attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election on Thursday, November 19, 2020. Trump attorneys Rudolph Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, also attended. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Sidney Powell, attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election on Thursday, November 19, 2020. Trump attorneys Rudolph Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, also attended. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

A federal judge indicated on Monday that far-right Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and others may be sanctioned for bringing a "fantastical" election fraud lawsuit to court, suggesting their affidavits "were submitted in bad faith."

"Plaintiffs ask this court to ignore the orderly statutory scheme established to challenge elections and to ignore the will of millions of voters," U.S. District Judge Linda Parker wrote. "This, the Court cannot, and will not, do."

The case, self-described as the "Kraken" lawsuit, was brought last year by Powell, Wood, and former Department of Housing and Urban Development adviser Julia Haller on behalf of Donald Trump, who has since his 2020 election loss baselessly alleged that President Biden won on account of systematic election fraud. The suit centers on four battleground states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona. Each state lawsuit was shot down in court along with their respective appeals. 

On Monday, Parker convened a meeting to discuss whether the Kraken team should be sanctioned or even permanently disbarred over their Michigan suit, for which they introduced a particularly "speculative" affidavit. 

Both Wood and lawyer Emily Newman attempted to disavow themselves from the suit, alleging that they did not play a specific part in the lawsuit. Wood claimed that he was unaware his name would be attached to the case and had only promised to "help [Powell] from a trial lawyer standpoint."

Detroit attorney David Fink argued that Wood's claims were "blatantly false," citing evidence that Wood had boasted about his work on the case over social media. 

The hearing, which was held via video conference, featured a number of bizarre exchanges that went beyond typical legal decorum.

In one back-and-forth described by Politico, pro-Trump lawyer Donald Campbell took issue with Parker's objection to an affidavit in which a witness described being "perplexed" at the way ballots were being handled out in at the TCF Center in Detroit.

"The word 'perplexed' is what you think is worth the time and effort of all the staff and lawyers … in this proceeding?" Campbell asked, surprised. 

"I would caution you to — do not question my procedure," Parker responded. 

"I am not a potted plant," Campbell clapped back. "I will represent my client."

In another, Parker concluded that she'd "never seen an affidavit that makes so many leaps," adding: "This is really fantastical. So my question to counsel here is: How could any of you as officers of the court present this affidavit?"

At one point, Powell in fact met Parker with a similar level of shock. "I have practiced law for 43 years and have never witnessed a proceeding like this," she said. "I take full responsibility [sic] myself for the pleadings in this case […] We have practiced law with the highest standards. We would file these same complaints again."

The proceeding comes as part of broader pushback against Trump's baseless election conspiracies. Back in February, the Georgia State Bar sent Wood a 1,600-plus-page complaint proposing that he be disciplined, as Politico reported. Last month, New York state similarly suspended the legal license of ex-Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. 

Detroit lawyers argued in the hearing that licensed attorneys who have supported Trump's election conspiracy should face professional penalties.


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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Brief Election Fraud Kraken Lawsuit Sidney Powell Trump