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Michigan Lawyers Outline Aftershocks of ‘Kraken’ Sanctions Ruling, Ranging from ‘Investigatory Hearing’ on Sidney Powell’s ‘Bar License’ to Unresolved Fight Over Fees


Sidney Powell

Now that a federal judge delivered her extraordinary rebuke on Wednesday night, nine lawyers associated with the so-called “Kraken” litigation to subvert the 2020 presidential election will be fighting for their law licenses. The Michigan attorneys involved in bringing about that outcome emphasize the legal battles are far from over—and in some ways have expanded.

Copies of U.S. District Judge Linda Parker’s blistering opinion and order will be sent to the home states of the “Kraken” lawyers, a nickname conspiracy theorist lawyer Sidney Powell gave to her legal offensive. The judge ordered that attorneys be referred for a professional conduct investigation and “possible suspension or disbarment.”

Like the mythical octopus it’s named after, the “Kraken” had many tentacles—four to be exact, which reached into courts in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. The Eastern District of Michigan litigation led to the fateful sanctions ruling, which opens new frontiers for future battles.

On Thursday, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) noted in a press release that Texas’s Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel “granted an investigatory hearing related to Powell’s bar license,” set for Nov. 4.

Fellow pro-Trump lawyer L. Lin Wood already has been fighting for his license for months in Georgia, where he unsuccessfully sued the bar investigating him to stop their probe into, among other things, his mental health.

Three of the local counsel for Team “Kraken” in the Michigan litigation will have to answer to the Wolverine State’s disciplinary board: Scott Hagerstrom, Stefanie Lynn Junttila, and Gregory Rohl.

Ex-Trump Housing and Urban Development official Emily Newman will answer to Virginia’s disciplinary authorities. Julia Z. Haller,who served in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, faces four separate authorities in the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York and New Jersey.

The remaining lawyers, Brandon Johnson (D.C., New York, and Nevada) and Howard Kleinhendler (New York and New Jersey), also face disciplinary reviews.

“These attorneys abused our judiciary for the sole purpose of undermining our system of free and fair elections,” Nessel said in a statement. “There is a direct correlation between their filings and the distrust now felt by millions of Americans.”

Although Michigan AG Nessel, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) filed bar complaints against certain “Kraken” lawyers, Wednesday’s sanctions ruling came through the efforts of lawyers for the city of Detroit, led by attorney David Fink.

“The City of Detroit was determined enough to look to the future and say, ‘If we just let these folks dismiss this case and walk away, they’re just going to come back and do it again,'” Fink told Law&Crime in a phone interview on the night of the ruling. “Somebody has to stop and say, ‘This has to stop.’ So when the city moved forward with this, there was some risk to it—and certainly some cost. But in the end, the city’s completely vindicated, and they will actually recover some of the costs, recoup some of the costs that they were forced to expend in defending the case.”

Calling that outcome far from inevitable, Fink noted most seek to avoid protracted battles over Rule 11 sanctions if they can simply end costly litigation—even if a deeper principle is at stake. Indeed, for nearly every official, state and municipality subjected to the barrage of meritless post-election lawsuits, exactly that happened.

“It is unusual for a client to be willing to stick to its guns and look beyond the case, in that we’re dealing with and look to the long term social implications of allowing bad actors to continue to act badly,” Fink said.

Gov. Whitmer celebrated the ruling for ratcheting up the price to pay for sowing distrust about democracy.

“After the 2020 election where Americans voted in record numbers, the outgoing president, his allies, and his enablers pushed the Big Lie—that the election was stolen, that our system didn’t work, that American democracy was fraudulent,” Whitmer said in a statement. “While the mob on January 6th physically assaulted our democracy, Sidney Powell and other lawyers continued to do so in our courts. They launched dozens of lawsuits, exploiting the legal system to undermine a free and fair election. The courts rejected all of them. This ruling sends a clear message: those who seek to overturn an American election and poison the well of American democracy will face consequences.”

Powell did not respond to an email on Wednesday requesting comment. Wood’s lawyer Paul Stablein did not immediately respond to an email Thursday requesting an update on the status of his client’s Georgia bar investigation.

[Image via screen capture/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."