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Citing ‘Inexplicable’ Delay, Federal Appeals Court Unanimously Shoots Down Sidney Powell’s Bid to Stay Sanctions

Sidney Powell appears in an August 2021 interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Sidney Powell appears in an August 2021 interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Skewering attorney Sidney Powell and her peers for their “inexplicable” delay, a federal appeals court on Thursday shot down the so-called Kraken lawyers’ request to pause sanctions that could lead to disciplinary proceedings or disbarment.

A three-member panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the stay proposed by attorneys Powell, Gregory J. Rohl, Brandon Johnson, Howard Kleinhendler, Julia Haller, and Scott Hagerstrom, all of whom are fighting for their law licenses after a district court judge referred them to their respective bars. The court rejected a similar motion by their co-counsel Stefanie Lynn Junttila in a separate order.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker found they committed an “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” in an attempt to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in Michigan.

“It is one thing to take on the charge of vindicating rights associated with an allegedly fraudulent election,” Parker wrote in a 110-page order on Aug. 25, 2021. “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 to whether any laws or rights were in fact violated. This is what happened here.”

For Parker, the litigation was “never about fraud”—but instead about “undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so.”

Parker also ordered the lawyers to take continuing legal education in the August ruling, ordering them to complete their courses by this coming Friday, Feb. 25. She tacked on $175,000 in financial penalties for the lawyers on Dec. 3.

Months would pass before the lawyers filed a motion on Feb. 14 this year, seeking to pause the non-monetary portion of their penalty pending an appeal. The Valentine’s Day plea received no love from a panel of U.S. Circuit Judges Bernice B. Donald (a Barack Obama appointee), Eric L. Clay (a Bill Clinton appointee), and Ralph B. Guy Jr. (a Ronald Reagan appointee), who noted that they made their request right before a deadline.

“They waited more than two months to seek a stay, knowing the February 25 deadline was imminent,” the trio wrote in an unsigned order. “The district court clerk has already referred the matter to the Attorneys’ relevant disciplinary authorities. When the district court entered its judgment, reducing the monetary sanctions to a sum certain, it had no reason to consider whether to stay its non-monetary sanctions imposed more than three months prior.”

The Michigan defeat was the most damaging for the so-called “Kraken” lawyers, so-named after the octopus-like monster given the Hollywood treatment in the film “Clash of the Titans.” Powell used a tagline from the movie in announcing her spate of four lawsuits seeking to overturn Donald Trump’s defeats in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia. Like the Kraken of the cinema, the litigation beast was quickly slain.

Their requested stay also turned out to be a flop.

“There was also ample time for this court to consider a motion to stay in the normal course,” the order states. “The Attorneys’ assertion that it was prudent to delay seeking a stay until they filed their principal brief is inexplicable.”

The city of Detroit, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) all defeated the lawsuit—and opposed pausing the punishment for their adversaries.

Detroit’s attorney David Fink declined to comment. Powell did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Read the ruling, below:

[image via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation/YouTube.]

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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."