Two More Lawyers Sanctioned for Filing Frivolous Election Challenges

An earlier federal judge had ordered the payment of sanctions to “Kraken”, two lawyers who filed frivolous, unfounded challenges against 2020’s presidential election results. Two Colorado Federal Magistrates Judges have ordered that two attorneys who had filed a class action suit for American voters, to pay more than $180,000 in penalties to cover their legal fees and those of state and private defendants in the absurd suit.

The Washington Post reports:

The two lawyers, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker, filed the case in December 2020 as a class action on behalf of 160 million American voters, alleging there was a complicated plot to steal the election from President Donald Trump and give the victory to Joe Biden.

They argued that a conspiracy was orchestrated by Dominion Voting Systems, the voting machine vendor; Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan, and four elected officials. They sought damages of $160 billion.

In April, the case was dropped. In August, Neureiter ruled that the attorneys had violated their ethical obligations by filing it in the first place, arguing that the duo had run afoul of legal rules that prohibit clogging the courts with frivolous motions and lodging information in court that is not true. Their suit was called “the stuff of violent insurrections being made” by Neureiter at the time. He said that they had not taken the time to investigate the facts of their conspiracy claims before they filed them in court. They were ordered to pay all legal fees incurred by the various entities they sued.

This is the order of the magistrate judge:

Given the complexity of the case, and the amount of issues that must be resolved, the sanction I issue is reasonable. In fact, the sanction is more than it would have been if market rates were applied. Addition of the State’s stipulated awards will bring the total sanction amount to $186,922. I believe this is a sufficient sanction award to deter future misconduct and send the right message.

It is important to recognize that both Plaintiff’s lawyers are individual individuals and not corporate entities. A $90,000.00 sanction (per lawyer), will most likely result in financial hardship. In this regard, I tried to consider their ability to pay. . . .

Also, the severity of this violation was considered.
Detailed information is available in the original sanction order. It bears repeating, however: officers
They are called to meaningful service by the Court.
Investigation before prematurely repeating at court pleadings unverified, uninvestigated, defamatory gossip that strike at heart of democracy and are used by others for inciting a violent rebellion that threatens our government system.

When determining the amount of sanction I take into consideration the fact that Plaintiffs counsel appealed to the general public for financial donations from innocent or gullible citizens in order to hire experts. . . . As was revealed at the hearing, Plaintiffs’ attorney did not hire any experts before filing the Complaints. They also didn’t speak with the experts being used in similar cases elsewhere around the country. Given the apparent lack of standing to bring this case—and its likely failure given the existing Supreme Court precedent on the issue of standing—as well as the failure to hire or speak to any expert witnesses to support the underlying factual assertions in the Complaints, this financial appeal to the public for financial contributions was arguably deceptive.

This sanction may also be considered as a potential threat to the zealous advocacy of potentially valid claims. However, I believe that repeated defamatory or potentially deadly unverified claims is what constitutes “advocacy”. This should be stopped. Before ever filing another lawsuit, counsel should take the time to think through and verify all information. This case was not one that required immediate or urgent injunctive relief. Therefore, there wasn’t any legal basis to file suit. This lawsuit was not a sanctionable case. It does not threaten to stop legitimate and appropriate legal advocacy.

Also, I considered counsel’s responsibility. This is a significant factor. This lawsuit was not client-generated. This lawsuit was solely the creation of Plaintiff’s lawyers. These are highly experienced lawyers and should have been aware of the dangers. They must take full responsibility for the misconduct they have committed. The defendants have suffered significant prejudice, not only because they had to pay legal fees to defend the pointless, unjustified lawsuit but also because they were defamed in court filings without any justification. Finally, rather than being a valid use of legal system for seeking redress for grievances that are redressable, the lawsuit has been used by the defendants to manipulate and promote unrest among the general public. This lawsuit is an abuse of power and interference in the government’s machinery. A significant sanction award seems appropriate for all of these reasons. Also, I feel the amount awarded was in line with the victim-centered principle. . . Compensatory mechanism” to counter the sanctions expected under U.S.C. 28 § 1927.

Evidently, the sanctioned lawyers intend to appeal.