Skip to main content

A Michigan Sheriff and a ‘Kraken’ Lawyer Lost a 2020 Election Lawsuit in Federal Court. They Just Filed Another in State Court.

Sheriff Dar Leaf

Sheriff Dar Leaf

After the 2020 presidential election, a county sheriff in Michigan filed and lost a federal lawsuit that a judge ripped for making “hazy and nebulous” claims of fraud. Now more than a year later, the same sheriff and a so-called “Kraken” lawyer have filed a lawsuit in state court claiming that law enforcement is interfering with his supposedly “ongoing criminal investigation.”

At the center of both lawsuits is Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, who once shared a stage with William Null, one of the men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). Leaf then defended Null in the press after the charges against him came to light.

“Well, it’s just a charge,” Leaf told local Fox affiliate WXYZ in October 2020. “And they say ‘a plot to kidnap,’ and you’ve got to remember that, are they trying to kidnap? Because a lot of people are angry with the governor, and they want her arrested. So are they trying to arrest or was it a kidnapping attempt?”

Though other men accused of plotting to kidnap Whitmer were recently acquitted, they raised an entrapment defense. In his interview, Sheriff Leaf appeared to justify an attempt to capture Whitmer through a supposed citizen’s arrest. The allegations against Null remain pending.

Leaf’s lawyer Stefanie Lambert Juntilla, part of the so-called “Kraken” effort to overturn elections, is also no stranger to controversy. A federal judge issued sanctioned Lambert and eight of her co-counsel for their failed attempt to overturn Michigan’s election results. Their penalties included referrals to their respective bar associations for possible discipline or disbarment.

As the new lawsuit indicates, the threat of disbarment hasn’t stopped Lambert from using her still-active license to pursue an election fraud-related case in court.

In a 45-page complaint, Leaf alleges that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) and Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) showed “inherent bias” toward their accusations of election shenanigans. More than 60 state and federal courts rejected claims of unfairness in the 2020 election, which former President Donald Trump’s (R) own cyber-security agencies ratified as the “most secure in American history.”

“Defendant Nessel has also shown her mockery and disdain for Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf in her multiple ‘Twitter’ posts and on other social media and biased ‘news’ articles,” the complaint alleges.

In a tweet on Dec. 7, 2020, Nessel noted that Leaf took part in the “post-election circus.”

Indeed, that same day, a federal judge skewered Leaf’s litigation as decidedly not serious.

“Plaintiffs’ applications invite the court to make speculative leaps towards a hazy and nebulous inference that there has been numerous instances of election fraud and that defendants are destroying the evidence,” Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker, a George W. Bush appointee, found in a scathing, three-page ruling. “There is simply nothing of record to infer as much, much less conclude that irreparable injury will occur before the defendants can be heard.”

Some months later, Leaf withdrew the federal lawsuit entirely.

The new state lawsuit alleges that Leaf has been conducting an investigation into the 2020 election and that other law enforcement agencies have been trying to “bully, harass, intimidate, [and] threaten” him, then “unconstitutionally usurp” the probe.

“On or around the beginning of March 2022, members of an undisclosed government agency (including Defendants State Police, Sergeant Fuller, and Sergeant Geyer), believed to consist of both ‘state’ and ‘federal’ elements directed and controlled by, or in collaboration with the other Defendants herein, began calling and harassing Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s deputies and agents conducting the Election Investigation, and asking questions about the investigation and seeking other information,” the complaint claims.

Michigan State Troopers Bryan Fuller and David Geyer are among the officials named as defendants.

In an email to Law&Crime, Michigan State Police spokesperson Lori Dougovito noted that their investigation is ongoing.

“We previously confirmed publicly that we are involved in an ongoing investigation involving a voting tabulator that began in Roscommon County,” Dougovito wrote in an email. “Because this is an ongoing investigation, we are not providing further details.”

That investigation reportedly involved suspected unauthorized access to voting equipment, a probe that looked into a pro-Trump Michigan lawmaker seeking to conduct a partisan election review, which was denied.

The lawsuit contends that state law enforcement is trying to obstruct Leaf’s review.

“The real effect of this usurpation of authority is to obstruct justice, cover up wrongdoing, and completely prevent Plaintiff from performing his constitutional duties to ferret out and investigate criminal activity,” the complaint continues. “In their brazen attempt to thwart justice and the judicial, legislative, and constitutional processes established to uphold the rule of law and legal duties and responsibilities, and most importantly to ensure that state and federal laws are not violated, Defendants instead made an effort to neutralize Plaintiff’s ability to perform his constitutionally and statutorily imposed duties as an elected constitutional officer.”

The sheriff wants a judge to order other law enforcement not to “interfere” with his investigation, allegedly tamper with evidence or leak information to the press. He and his attorney filed the lawsuit on Friday.

Nessel’s representative declined comment. Lambert did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s email requesting comment.

Read the complaint, below:

[image via Fox 17 screengrab]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."