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Whitmer, Benson, Nessel share what's next following sanctions victory against 'Kraken' attorneys
August 26, 2021
LANSING - Wednesday's ruling from United States District Court Judge Linda Parker granting sanctions against attorneys who participated in a baseless election lawsuit made clear the "lawsuit represents a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process."
Michigan's top elected officials reaffirmed today that the accountability secured in the case does not end here.
"As Judge Parker rightly noted, this case was about seeking consequences for those who 'debased the judicial process' in a misguided, deceitful effort to undermine the public's faith in our democracy," Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said. "I am grateful for the court's definitive recognition that those who misuse their positions of authority and power to intentionally deceive voters about their rights and the truth of the 2020 election - or any election - will be held accountable."
"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," Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. "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."
"These attorneys abused our judiciary for the sole purpose of undermining our system of free and fair elections," Attorney General Dana Nessel said. "There is a direct correlation between their filings and the distrust now felt by millions of Americans. I'm proud of the work done by my office to secure these sanctions and I recognize the work that lies ahead for all of us to repair the damage done to our democracy."
The sanctioned attorneys are listed below, followed by the jurisdiction in which they are admitted to practice:
- Sidney Powell - Texas;
- L. Lin Wood - Georgia;
- Emily Newman - Virginia;
- Julia Z. Haller - the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York and New Jersey;
- Brandon Johnson - the District of Columbia, New York, and Nevada;
- Scott Hagerstrom - Michigan;
- Howard Kleinhendler - New York and New Jersey;
- Gregory Rohl - Michigan;
- Stefanie Lynn Junttila - Michigan
Judge Parker's 110-page opinion also ordered the sanctioned attorneys to pay the fees and costs incurred by state defendants and the City of Detroit, as well as:
- ordering the plaintiffs' attorneys to complete at least 12 hours of continuing legal education, taught by non-partisan organizations, in the subjects of pleading standards and election law within six months; and
- referring the decision to the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission and the appropriate disciplinary authority where each attorney is licensed for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment.
The Department of Attorney General previously asked for further disciplinary action before the Attorney Grievance Commission of the State of Michigan and the State Bar of Texas.
Thus far, Texas' Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel has granted an investigatory hearing related to Powell's bar license, set for November 4. There is no update related to the Michigan licenses at this time.
Judge Parker's ruling will mean disciplinary boards in other states will also review the attorneys' conduct.
Earlier this month sanctions were granted in favor of Michigan and other parties by United States Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado against attorneys who took part in a previously-dismissed election lawsuit filed in that court. The sanctioned attorneys in the Colorado case are Gary D. Fielder and Ernest J. Walker. They've been ordered to pay defendants' fees related to the suit.