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Detroit Asks Federal Judge to Refer Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and the ‘Kraken’ Team for Disbarment


Right-wing attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood at the so-called Stop the Steal rally.

Right-wing attorneys Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, and the rest of the so-called “Kraken” counsel seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential elections should face proceedings to be disbarred, the city of Detroit told a federal judge on Tuesday.

“We have been horrified by the inappropriate actions of these attorneys and the plaintiffs themselves, and we have intended to seek any sanction the court can order,” Detroit’s counsel David Fink told Law&Crime in a phone interview, adding that the court has “inherent power” to refer disbarment or suspension proceedings to the chief judge.

Cataloguing Powell and Wood’s “lies,” “unhinged conspiracy theories,” and “fraud on the court,” Detroit created a detailed list of the duo’s courtroom and extrajudicial antics—such as their pining for martial law, fundraising through shadowy dark-money entities, and marshaling a secret witness code-named “Spyder” who later told a reporter that the legal team made him submit a false declaration. In another bizarre turn, Wood speculated that Chief Justice John Roberts may be part of a Jeffrey Epstein-linked cabal of pedophiles, a claim that led his ex-client Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic-high school student, to debunk him.

“While the First Amendment may protect the right of political fanatics to spew their lies and unhinged conspiracy theories, it does not grant anyone a license to abuse our courts for purposes which are antithetical to our democracy and to our judicial system,” Fink wrote in a brief supporting his motion. “Plaintiffs and their counsel cannot be allowed to use the court system to undermine the constitutional and statutory process by which we select our leaders.”

In December, an early draft of the sanctions motion filed by Detroit became public, proposing a wide range of possible penalties against Powell, Wood, and their allies, including fines, a ban from the Eastern District of Michigan and referral for grievance proceedings.

The city sent their motion to Powell and Wood’s team on Dec. 15, in keeping with mandates under Rule 11 sanctions motions that opposing counsel must be granted a 21-day window to withdraw challenged claims during the “safe harbor” period.

Instead of retreating, Powell and Wood doubled-down.

“No lawyer for the Plaintiffs responded to the email message forwarding the Rule 11 motion,” a footnote of Detroit’s motion states. “Instead, at least two of their attorneys made public statements, with military analogies and references to opposing counsel as ‘the enemy.'”

Detroit cites Powell’s cryptic remark in an email to Law&Crime: “We are clearly over the target.”

Addressing his roughly 800,000 Twitter followers, Wood echoed the line, attacking the attorneys and reporters: “When you get falsely accused by the likes of David Fink & Marc Elias of Perkins Coie (The Hillary Clinton Firm) in a propaganda rag like Law & Crime, you smile because you know you are over the target & the enemy is running scared!”

Fink hit back with a line of local pride.

“Perhaps the lack of civility is related to counsels’ failure to apply for admission to the Eastern District of Michigan’s bar,” he wrote. “At least they would have been compelled to review and affirm their commitment to our court’s Civility Principles.”

The motion will go before U.S. District Judge Linda Parker, who booted Powell and Wood’s lawsuit as an effort to “ignore the will of millions of voters.”

“The People have spoken,” Parker ruled on Dec. 7.

Quoting the judge’s ruling, Detroit argued that mere dismissal was not enough because the pro-Trump lawyers filed the suit to harass and frivolously undermine “People’s faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government.”

“Plaintiffs and their counsel understood that the mere filing of a suit (no matter how frivolous) could, without any evidence, raise doubts in the minds of millions of Americans about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election,” the sanctions motion reads.

On top of seeking initiate disbarment proceedings in Michigan, Detroit wants the lawsuit to haunt its filers back in their home jurisdictions. If granted, Powell would be referred to the Michigan Bar and to the Texas bar and Wood to the Michigan and Georgia bar. Attorney Julia Haller, a former Trump official in Housing and Urban Development, would be referred to the Michigan Bar and to the Washington D.C. bar, and Trump lawyer Howard Kleinhendler would be referred to the Michigan Bar and to the New York bar.

Detroit found that only one member of the team, lawyer Greg Rohl, was admitted to practice in the Eastern District of Michigan—and he has a bit of history in the state’s courts.

“He has previously been sanctioned for filing a case which was deemed ‘frivolous from its inception’ and ordered to pay over $200,000 in costs and attorney fees,” a footnote says, citing the 2007 case of DeGeorge v. Warheit. “He was then held in criminal contempt and sentenced to jail—affirmed by the Court of Appeals—for attempting to transfer assets to evade payment.”

Self-styled by Powell as the “kraken,” the entourage gets their name for the mythical, octopus-like monster that received Hollywood treatment in “Clash of the Titans.” Detroit noted that there were three other “remarkably similar” kraken suits in Arizona, Wisconsin and Georgia.

“The City gave Plaintiffs and their counsel the opportunity to retract their lies and baseless legal claims, and they have refused,” Detroit’s legal brief accompanying the motion states. “The extent of the factual and legal errors in this complaint would warrant sanctions under any circumstances, but here the court’s processes are being perverted to undermine our democracy and to upset the peaceful transition of power. The plaintiffs and all of their attorneys deserve the harshest sanctions this Court is empowered to order.”

Filled with conspiracy theories and secret witnesses, the lawsuits have featured redacted declarations of people whom the legal team had claimed feared retribution if their names became public.

“For instance, Plaintiffs claim that their self-proclaimed experts include a military intelligence analyst, but when they accidentally disclosed his name, the ‘expert’ was revealed to have washed out of the training course for military intelligence,” the sanctions brief notes, referring to the case of Josh Merritt. “Plaintiffs’ counsel did not redact the information to ‘protect’ the ‘informant,’ they did so to hide their fraud on the court.”

Merritt, known in “kraken” filings by the interchangeably spelled code names “Spider” and “Spyder,” later told the Washington Post that clerks from Powell’s legal team were to blame for the misleading statement on the sworn declaration.

“My original paperwork that I sent in didn’t say that,” he told the paper.

The Post later unmasked another redacted “kraken” witness Terpsichore “Tore” Maras-Lindeman, who also appeared to puff up her credentials in a court declaration as a “trained cryptolinguist.” Maras-Lindeman spent less than a year in the Navy. She also was civilly prosecuted for perpetrating what a judge found to be a fraud.

“It is a near certainty that if plaintiffs are compelled to publicly file unredacted declarations and affidavits, as they should be, numerous other redacted names and assertions will reveal that the redactions were made to keep the public from discovering more fraud perpetrated on this court,” the sanctions brief declares.

Powell and Wood did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment.

[Image via YouTube/screengrab]

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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."