The team of “Kraken” attorneys who sought to overturn the 2020 election “scorned their oath, flouted the rules, and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way,” according to a Wednesday opinion from a Detroit federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Linda Parker for the Eastern District of Michigan referred the team of lawyers — who sought to overturn the election in courts through a series bogus claims — for suspension or disbarment while granting requests for sanctions.
Parker also ordered the “Kraken” team — which included Trump-aligned lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood — to pay for legal fees for the city of Detroit and state of Michigan, and referred them for “at least twelve (12) hours of continuing legal education in the subjects of pleading standards (at least six hours total) and election law (at least six hours total).”
Parker wrote in the ruling that the “Kraken” lawyers had tried to create a “haze of confusion, commotion, and chaos” around the election.
“And this case was never about fraud — it was about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so,” Parker wrote.
Much of the 110-page opinion focuses on dozens of affidavits that the “Kraken” team attached to the lawsuit, which have been served up by proponents of the Big Lie as evidence for the claim that some unspecified thing went wrong in 2020.
Parker called this element of the lawsuit — as well as the relief sought — “frivolous,” saying that she could not identify a way for her court to decertify the election results.
“It is not lost upon the Court that the same claims and requested relief that Plaintiffs’ attorneys presented here were disposed of, for many of the same reasons, in Michigan courts and by judges in several other ‘battleground’ jurisdictions where Plaintiffs’ counsel sought to overturn the election results,” the opinion reads. “The fact that no federal district court considering the issues at bar has found them worthy of moving forward supports the conclusion that Plaintiffs’ claims are frivolous.”
Parker gave the example of an assertion in the lawsuit that Michigan illegally counted “unsecured ballots … without any chain of custody,” a claim based on someone who supposedly observed a car passenger dropping off more ballots than there were people in the car.
“But when the Court asked Plaintiffs’ counsel whether individuals other than the voter can drop off a ballot in Michigan, [a “Kraken” lawyer] answered in the affirmative,” Parker wrote. “And of course, anyone easily could have learned this by consulting Michigan law. It seems to the Court, then, that Plaintiffs’ counsel knew or should have known that this conduct did not violate existing state law.”
Parker went on to say that the lack of due diligence involved in alleging that an act was illegal when it, in fact, was lawful, made the “Kraken” team eligible for the sanctions she imposed today.
“What is sanctionable is counsel’s allegation that violations of the Michigan Election Code occurred based on those facts, without bothering to figure out if Michigan law actually prohibited the acts described,” the ruling reads.
The “Kraken” team has tried to use Parker’s questioning to claim that, really, what’s needed here is an evidentiary hearing, or some form of discovery that would allow them to determine once and for all whether the 2020 election was stolen.
Parker shot that down: “But here’s the snag,” she wrote. “Plaintiffs are not entitled to rely on the discovery process to mine for evidence that never existed in the first instance.”
Parker went further than finding that the “Kraken” had simply failed to exercise due diligence; rather, the judge ruled that the pro-Trump team had acted in bad faith in filing the lawsuit.
That, Parker wrote, is evidenced in part by the purpose of the suit: shaping a media narrative, not resolving a legitimate legal dispute.
“What is most important, however, and what very clearly reflects bad faith is that Plaintiffs’ attorneys are trying to use the judicial process to frame a public ‘narrative,’” Parker wrote. “Absent evidentiary or legal support for their claims, this seems to be one of the primary purposes of this lawsuit.”
Referring to Powell specifically, Parker cited responses that the Trump attorney gave in a lawsuit filed by Dominion. There, Powell said that her statements about the 2020 election were “opinion” that “reasonable people would not accept . . . as fact.”
Parker wrote that Powell had conceded that “at least some of the allegations in the current lawsuit were made to support” Trump.
“It is not acceptable to support a lawsuit with opinions, which counsel herself claims no reasonable person would accept as fact and which were ‘inexact,’ ‘exaggerate[ed],’ and ’hyperbole,’” Parker wrote. “Nor is it acceptable to use the federal judiciary as a political forum to satisfy one’s political agenda. Such behavior by an attorney in a court of law has consequences.”
In her closing, Parker found that all of the “Kraken”‘s actions — when taken in sum — added up to a basic truth: that “once it appeared that their preferred political candidate’s grasp on the presidency was slipping away, Plaintiffs’ counsel helped mold the predetermined narrative about election fraud by lodging this federal lawsuit based on evidence that they actively refused to investigate or question with the requisite level of professional skepticism.”
That, Parker added, had horrific consequences. Noting that Powell stated at the hearing that she would file the same lawsuit again, Parker said that the “Kraken” suit had contributed to the Capitol insurrection.
“They make this assertion even after witnessing the events of January 6 and the dangers posed by narratives like the one counsel crafted here,” Parker concluded. “An attorney who willingly continues to assert claims doomed to fail, and which have incited violence before, must be deemed to be acting with an improper motive.”
The scathing opinion comes after Parker held a hearing on July 12 to examine whether the “Kraken” attorneys should be sanctioned for their role in unleashing the monster.
Among the “Kraken” plaintiffs was Wood, the former celebrity attorney who has spearheaded bizarre, far-right causes of late.
Wood had argued at the sanctions hearing that he was unaware that his signature had been placed on the lawsuit — a claim that Parker treated politely at the hearing but roundly dismissed in the Wednesday ruling.
“No reasonable attorney would sit back silently if his or her name were listed as counsel in a case if permission to do so had not been given,” Parker wrote, before saying that Wood is “not credible.”
The “Kraken” lawsuit was filed by Powell in late November 2020, more than three weeks after the election.
In addition to Powell and Wood, the suit was signed by former Trump administration official Julia Haller and attorney Howard Kleinhendler.
The suit included dozens of affidavits from various people who claimed to have witnessed improper election conduct, the details of which ranged from the objectionable to the confusing. One affiant reported seeing unidentified papers being carried in a plastic bag on the day of the election — but it was never explained how or why that supported the overall allegation of stolen election.
At the sanctions hearing, none of the attorneys were able to tell Judge Parker that they had done any work to verify the underlying affidavits.
“My concern is that counsel here has submitted affidavits to make the public believe there was something wrong with the election,” Parker said. “That’s what these affidavits are designed to do: to show that there was something wrong in Michigan, something wrong at the TCF center, in support of the general proposition that there was fraud in the Michigan election.”
Powell said at the hearing that she would do it all over again.
“We have practiced law with the highest standards — we would file the same complaints again,” Powell said at the hearing.
Read the opinion here: