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Detroit Asks Court to Issue Sanction After Trump Campaign Lawyer Used Court Filing to ‘Spread Disinformation’


The City of Detroit sharply criticized the increasingly flailing Trump campaign legal team for an erroneous, incorrect and inaccurate filing previously submitted in federal court.

Detroit is a defendant in the Trump campaign’s apparently abandoned legal efforts to block the certification of the 2020 presidential election results in Wayne County specifically and Michigan generally. And now, the Motor City wants the campaign sanctioned as a result of that error because, they claim, Trump’s attorneys knew it was false and were attempting to use the court filing in order to spread, well, fake news.

In a motion filed late Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, attorneys for Detroit lambasted a Thursday morning filing by attorney Mark F. “Thor” Hearne II which falsely stated that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers “declined to certify the results of the presidential election.”

As Law&Crime previously reported, that wasn’t true at all and legal experts were summarily astonished at the claim made in the motion.

“The City of Detroit respectfully submits this motion to strike from the record the affidavits submitted with [the Trump campaign’s] notice of voluntary dismissal filed by plaintiffs on November 19, 2020, as well as the immaterial, impertinent and false language in the notice itself,” Detroit’s own motion begins.

Recall: Hearne and other members of Trump’s legal team—including Rudy Giuliani—staked their false claim on the fact that two Republican members of the Wayne County board asked to rescind their votes after President Donald Trump personally called and pressured them. That’s not how election certifications in Michigan work, of course, and various authorities in the state dismissed the GOP’s coping mechanism as off-base and sour grapes.

Detroit’s filing tidily sums up the controversy here:

The notice falsely claims that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers “met and declined to certify the results of the presidential election.” In fact, as has been reported publicly, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers voted to certify the election results, and there is no legal mechanism for that action to be rescinded by affidavits.

“[The relevant federal rule of civil procedure] allows Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the other plaintiffs to voluntarily dismiss their claims, but it does not allow them to use a notice of dismissal to spread disinformation,” the filing goes on.

According to Detroit, the idea here is that the Trump campaign abused the federal court system in order to telegraph chaos and set the stage for broader and more protracted legal battles in the future. Legal experts also made that observation.

“My guess is they’re going to take the position that these affidavits somehow rescinded the certification and bring a new suit saying that,” tweeted federal appeals attorney Raffi Melkonian in response to the original Trump campaign filing.

Attorney Richard Goldwasser proposed sanctioning the attorneys:

And in their late Thursday motion, Detroit pointed out that the judge could issue a sanction in the form of striking the filing from the record because the document was presented for an “improper purpose”—namely, to lie for political reasons. Again the Detroit motion, at length:

Moreover, Fed. R. Civ. P. 11 gives the Court the authority to strike materials from the record as a sanction. The Rule holds that when an attorney submits a document to the Court, the attorney is certifying, among other things, that to the best of their “knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances” the document is not being presented for any improper purpose, and is supported by evidence. Plaintiffs’ claims in this lawsuit clearly did not satisfy Rule 11. The affidavits and the impertinent text in the Notice were submitted for an improper purpose: to make a gratuitous, public statement about their purported reason for voluntary dismissal, before the Court could reject their baseless claims of election fraud.

[image via Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]

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