Friday, December 8, 2023

Michigan Sanctions Lawyer Who Sued Dominion And Others

A  Michigan Attorney Disciplinary Board Hearing Panel accepted a stipulated 30 day suspension for frivolous litigation in the wake of the 2020 election

Respondent and the Grievance Administrator filed a Stipulation for Consent Order of Discipline, pursuant to MCR 9.115(F)(5), which was approved by the Attorney Grievance Commission and accepted by the hearing panel. The stipulation contained respondent’s admissions to the factual allegations - that he filed a frivolous lawsuit in Colorado federal court against Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and others - and allegations of professional misconduct set forth in paragraphs 34 (a) and (c) of the formal complaint filed by the Grievance Administrator.

Based on respondent's admissions and the stipulation of the parties, the panel found that respondent brought or defended a proceeding, or asserted or controverted an issue therein, where the basis for doing so was frivolous, in violation of MRPC 3.1; and engaged in conduct that exposes the legal profession or the courts to obloquy, contempt, censure, or reproach, in violation of MCR 9.104(2).

The Colorado federal court decision imposing sanctions is linked here

This lawsuit arises out of the 2020 election for President of the United States. The original Complaint (Dkt. #1) purported to be a class action lawsuit on behalf of all American registered voters, alleging a vast conspiracy between four governors, secretaries of state, and various election officials of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia; along with Dominion, a private supplier of election and voting technology; the social media company Facebook; CTCL, a non-profit organization dedicated to making elections more secure and inclusive; as well as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

I use the words “vast conspiracy” purposefully. The Complaint is one enormous conspiracy theory. And a conspiracy is what the original Complaint, all 84 pages and 409-plus paragraphs, alleged: that “the Defendants engaged in concerted action to interfere with the 2020 presidential election through a coordinated effort to, among other things, change voting laws without legislative approval, use unreliable voting machines, alter votes through an illegitimate adjudication process, provide illegal methods of voting, count illegal votes, suppress the speech of opposing voices, disproportionally and privately fund only certain municipalities and counties, and other methods, all prohibited by the Constitution.” Dkt. #1 at 2, ¶ 4 (emphasis added).

So, this was not a normal case in any sense. Plaintiffs purported to represent 160 million American registered voters and came seeking a determination from a federal court in Colorado that the actions of multiple state legislatures, municipalities, and state courts in the conduct of the 2020 election should be declared legal nullities. See Dkt. #1 at 83 (asking that the Court “[d]eclare the actions of the Defendants, as herein described, as unconstitutional and ultra vires, thereby making them legal nullities”). This presumably would have included the certification of the votes of the states and the subsequent inauguration of President Biden. 

Law & Crime reported

A federal magistrate judge in November 2021 ordered Walker and Fielder to pay a combined total of $186,922.50 in 2021 for trying to pass off “unverified and uninvestigated defamatory rumors” as court credible pleadings.

When U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter decided to toss the case in August 2021, he called the “bad faith” lawsuit “one enormous conspiracy theory.”

The magistrate noted that the lawyers had even cited up a Time Magazine article as supposed proof of a racketeering (RICO) plot involving Democratic governors and secretaries of state to steal the election from Donald Trump and hand it to Joe Biden, with the help of voting machine company Dominion, social media giant Facebook, and Georgia’s Republican governor and secretary of state.

“For Plaintiffs’ counsel to hold up this article as supporting the existence of an illegal RICO conspiracy to rig the election is an affront to the truth and an attempt to mislead the Court,” Neureiter said at the time, adding that the case was “not a client-generated lawsuit.”

“This is exclusively a creation of the Plaintiff’s counsel. They are experienced lawyers who should have known better. They need to take responsibility for their misconduct,” the magistrate summarized.

The magistrate judge further said that Walker and Fielder’s “pointless and unjustified lawsuit” also damaged the public trust in the legal system, by “manipulat[ing] gullible members of the public and foment[ing] public unrest.”

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2023/12/michigan-sanctions-lawyer-who-sued-dominion-and-others.html

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