The self-proclaimed “Kraken” attorneys behind a series of outlandish federal lawsuits aimed at overturning the 2020 election results in four U.S. states are asking a federal appeals court to overturn a sanctions order that gave each member of their legal team citations to possible disqualifications from practicing law .
A little over a year has passed since a federal judge handed down crushing sanctions on nine attorneys led by Attorney Sydney Powellwho told the January 6 committee that former president donald trump wanted to make her special attorney for voter fraud.
“Extremely committed and hard-working lawyers”
As determined by the US District Judge Linda Parker In August 2021, the case Powell and her co-counsel filed in Michigan federal court “never involved fraud.”
“This lawsuit constitutes an historic and profound abuse of legal process,” Parker wrote in a massive 110-page statement and order. “It is one thing to take responsibility for defending rights in relation to an allegedly fraudulent election. It is another to accept the charge of deceiving a federal court and the American people that rights have been violated, regardless of whether laws or rights have actually been violated. That happened here.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Powell had no regrets about how she handled the lawsuit.
“We were a small group of extremely dedicated and hard-working attorneys who filed a complaint,” Powell told the three-judge panel.
Powell’s co-counsel included high-profile figures in Trump’s orbit, including a lawyer lin woodwho was photographed with the former president in early 2020, and July Haller, a former member of Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. It was the other six lawyers on the legal team Emily Neuman, BrandonJohnson, Howard Kleinhendler, Scott Hagerstrom, Gregory Rohland Stefanie Lynn Junttila.
“I don’t know what else we could possibly have done to comply with Rule 11,” Powell said, referring to the rule that prohibits attorneys from filing cases for “improper” purposes. One of the judges noted that another affidavit was filed Russell James Ramsland Jr. was “ridiculous” in the face.
However, she admitted what she called “mistakes,” including not knowing enough about the person behind an affidavit she dubbed “Spyder.” Her legal team identified him as a “military intelligence expert.” The Washington Post revealed him as Joshua Merrittwho was an Army mechanic who wasn’t in Intelligence.
In the past, Powell and Wood — who funded their post-election litigation through their Defend the Republic and FightBack Foundation entities, respectively — have attempted to discredit Judge Parker by noting that she was appointed by the former president Barack Obama. Federal judges, on the other political side, dismissed all four of their lawsuits, including one Trump-appointed.
Her appeal has now landed before a panel of all Republican nominations: the US Circuit Judge Danny Julian Boggsa Ronald Reagan Representative; and George W Bush– Appointed US Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge and Helene Weiss.
“What about the tweets?”
The panel appeared to give Woods attorney Paul J Stablein a hard reception, too.
As he had done before the lower court, Wood downplayed his connection to the Michigan “Kraken” trial and denied that he was part of the legal team, although his name appeared on briefs. Stablein claimed Parker made a “factual error” in dismissing this and noting that Wood was an active participant in the litigation.
For the three-person panel, however, Wood’s social media activity strongly contradicted his legal position.
“What about the tweets?” Judge Boggs asked.
At the time, Wood was a prolific Twitter user, garnering hundreds of thousands of followers spreading conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. His account was suspended after it was claimed the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol was “staged” – and called out for the then-Vice President Mike Pence be arrested for treason and “threaten to be executed by firing squad”.
Before being booted from the platform, Wood barely seemed to hide his connection to the lawsuit from his supporters.
“More than taking responsibility, maybe he seems to be bragging about it,” Boggs noted.
In one of those tweets, Wood denied receiving a notification of a Rule 11 request, but his tweet showed that he had read about it on Law&Crime and linked to a December 15, 2020 story. Wood claimed to his Twitter followers that he was Detroit’s attorney David Fink and the attorney for the Democratic Party Mark Elias “falsely accused” him. He also called Law&Crime a “propaganda rag”.
In verbal arguments, Fink echoed these insults in his tweets to note that Wood had not told the court the truth: Wood knew about the Rule 11 notice during the Safe Harbor period.
“Fulfillment of an extrajudicial purpose”
On January 5, 2021, Fink filed his sanctions motion, warning of the dangers of attorneys’ stolen electoral rhetoric, which he saw as a threat to the transfer of power. Fink said he wasn’t proud to have seen what happened the next day. The passionate Detroit attorney denounced their “abuse of the justice system” and stressed that they must have known their lawsuit could not possibly have achieved its goal.
“They couldn’t get what they wanted,” Fink said. “They couldn’t get anything because they submitted it so late.”
Several post-election lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies have been dismissed under the doctrine of laughsmeaning the attorneys sat on their rights and were late in filing.
This argument was crucial because Justice Kethledge hypothesized whether an attempt to overturn an election would have been reckless under the law if supported by facts. Fink’s response was that the pro-Trump lawyers must have known even then that their lawsuit was being filed too late, and that they didn’t have the right to file it.
Instead, Fink said, the attorneys wanted to “send the message that the election was stolen — and it wasn’t.”
“They lacked the law to support it and as such it served an extrajudicial purpose,” Fink said.
“You have First Amendment rights, but you can’t lie in court,” he added. “I think it’s that simple.”
The “Kraken,” as Powell called her lawsuits, refers to the octopus-like monster of myth covered in Hollywood battle of the titans. The film produced the catchphrase: “Release the Kraken” after which the fearsome creature was eventually killed.
All four of Powell’s and her co-counsel’s lawsuits — filed in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona — met similar fates.
Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected]