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Detroit Is Trying to Get Sidney Powell Fined, Banned from Court, and Referred to the Bar for Filing the ‘Kraken’


A November 19, 2020 photo shows Sidney Powell speaking during a press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC. - US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis reportedly said that Powell is not a member of the Trump legal team. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The City of Detroit wants Sidney Powell and her self-styled “Kraken” team to face sanctions for “frivolously undermining ‘People’s faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government.'”

The Motor City’s motion asks a federal judge to fine the lawyers, ban them from practicing in the Eastern District in Michigan and refer them to the Wolverine State’s bar for grievance proceedings.

“It’s time for this nonsense to end,” Detroit’s lawyer David Fink told Law&Crime in a phone interview.

“The lawyers filing these frivolous cases that undermine democracy must pay a price,” Fink added.

Under standard procedures for Rule 11 sanctions, opposing counsel must be granted a 21-day window to withdraw offending litigation before a request is filed in court. The motion has not yet been filed, and it was briefly tweeted out by Marc Elias, an attorney from the Washington-based firm Perkins Coie who has regularly intervened in these cases on behalf of the Democratic Party and the Biden campaign.

“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,” Fink’s 9-page motion states. “As this Court noted, ‘Plaintiffs ask th[e] Court to ignore the orderly statutory scheme established to challenge elections and to ignore the will of millions of voters.'”

Fink had been quoting a scathing ruling by U.S. District Judge Linda Parker, who dismissed Powell’s litigation with a resounding invocation of the will of the Michigan electorate: “The People have spoken.”

“The right to vote is among the most sacred rights of our democracy and, in turn, uniquely defines us as Americans,” Parker noted in her 36-page ruling. “The struggle to achieve the right to vote is one that has been both hard fought and cherished throughout our country’s history. Local, state, and federal elections give voice to this right through the ballot. And elections that count each vote celebrate and secure this cherished right.”

Powell and her co-counsel Lin Wood have filed three other suits like it in Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia, losing each of them in turn. They claim to be en route to fighting them to the Supreme Court, but there is no sign of a single cert petition on the high court’s docket.

Asked about the sanctions motion, Powell replied cryptically: “We are clearly over the target.”

On the other hand, every court that has heard her conspiracy theories about a supposed plot involving Dominion voting machines, dead Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, bipartisan government officials and election workers in counties across the United States found that narrative untethered to reality.

“The key ‘factual’ allegations from the supposed fact witnesses, some of whom attempt to cloak their identities while attacking democracy, have been debunked,” the sanctions motion states. “The allegations about supposed fraud in the processing and tabulation of absentee ballots by the City at the TCF Center have been rejected by every court which has considered them. If any of the claims in this lawsuit had merit, that would have been demonstrated in those cases.”

Powell has deployed a parade of anonymous and supposedly confidential witness, including a purported military intelligence expert code-named “Spyder” who later admitted to the Washington Post that he was actually an auto mechanic named Joshua Merritt with no such work experience.

Though the cases get quickly booted out of court, Detroit and other cities across the country have been forced to defend them and their appeals on the taxpayer dime.

“This abuse of the legal process at the expense of states should not go unpunished,” Fink said.

If the sanctions motion moved forward in court, Powell could be forced to post a $100,000 bond before filing any more appeals of her lawsuit, on top of the other penalties Fink requested.

Even if Powell withdraws her case in response to Detroit’s motion, Judge Parker can choose to sanction the “Kraken” team—so-named after the mythical, octopus-like creature—on her own initiative.

Fink has earned distinction for his passionate and indignant effort to turn the tables on attacks on the U.S. democratic process by outgoing President Donald Trump and his allies. Their flood of litigation reminded him of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day,” only a deadly serious version that amounted to an effort to bring about what he called a “court-ordered coup d’état.” He has sought to sanction pro-Trump lawyers before for a campaign of “lies” and “frivolous” litigation.

Also on Tuesday, Detroit asked a judge in Wayne County to sanction two pro-Trump non-profits behind a state court case that was thrown out because it was backed by “no evidence.”

“This is not a legitimate lawsuit; it is a public relations weapon being used to advance the false narrative that our democratic system is broken,” Detroit’s motion thunders. “This abuse of our legal system deserves the strongest possible sanctions.”

Brought by the so-called Election Integrity Fund—whose website describes itself as 501(c)4 formed this year—the case was one of several lawsuits filed across the country by the Thomas More Society. That 501(c)3 named after the Catholic saint and author of “Utopia” counted Rudy Giuliani as a “partner” in a spate of lawsuits dubbed the Amistad Project.

Like “Utopia,” none of the lawsuits described factual allegations that another judge found to exist.

“This is not a minor lawsuit; it is a dangerous attack on the integrity of the democratic process for the election of the President of the United States,” Fink wrote. “The parties and their attorneys should be held to the highest standards of factual and legal due diligence; instead, they have raised false allegations and pursued unsupportable legal theories. Then, after being corrected by the defendants and the Courts, they refuse to dismiss their lawsuit. Apparently this frivolous lawsuit continues because it serves other, more nefarious, purposes. While the pending complaint cannot possibly result in meaningful relief, it does serve the purpose of conveying to the world the impression that something fraudulent occurred in Detroit’s vote count.”

Several other pro-Trump non-profits filed and lost meritless lawsuits across the country.

[image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images]

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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."