Far-right attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood and their co-counsel were sanctioned in Michigan Wednesday for their post-election lawsuit alleging widespread fraud in the state—and now face possible disbarment—but the Michigan case is just one of several places where the lawyers face professional consequences, including other disbarment efforts, for bringing their lawsuits.
U.S. District Judge Linda Parker ruled Wednesday Powell, Wood and their co-counsel must pay defendants’ attorneys fees, undergo at least 12 hours of legal education and will be referred to disciplinary boards “for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment.”
Parker ruled the Michigan lawsuit—one of four failed battleground state lawsuits Powell and her co-counsel filed alleging widespread election fraud and trying to overturn the election—was a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process” that was not about fraud, but rather “about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so.”
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has also asked a federal court to sanction Powell and her co-counsel and force them to pay more than $100,000 in attorneys fees for their lawsuit in that state, though those motions are still pending and there is no hearing yet set.
In addition to Michigan’s request for sanctions, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had previously filed separate complaints with the Attorney Grievance Commission of the State of Michigan and the State Bar of Texas seeking to have Powell and the other lawyers in the Michigan lawsuit disbarred, which are the same disciplinary bodies that were included in Parker’s order.
Attorneys in Arizona filed an ethics complaint with the State Bar of Arizona against Powell, Wood and other attorneys behind her case in the state, calling for an investigation that could result in fees, suspension of their law licenses or disbarment in the state.
The State Bar of Georgia is investigating Wood for his post-election conduct—including his lawsuits with Powell and litigation he led separately, as well as for spreading outlandish conspiracy theories—which could potentially result in his disbarment.
“Despite the haze of confusion, commotion, and chaos counsel intentionally attempted to create by filing this lawsuit, one thing is perfectly clear: Plaintiffs’ attorneys have scorned their oath, flouted the rules, and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way,” Parker ruled. “As such, the Court is duty-bound to grant the motions for sanctions.”
What To Watch For
Texas’ Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel will consider the fate of Powell’s law license at an investigatory hearing on November 4, the Michigan Secretary of State’s office said in a statement Thursday, in response to their previous complaint filed with the board. The secretary of state’s office said no other hearings have yet been scheduled for any of the lawyers licensed in Michigan that they had also filed complaints about.
Counsel for Powell, Wood and the other attorneys have not yet responded to requests for comment, but Powell has defended her allegations of election fraud, suggesting during the hearing on the sanctions motion she did not regret bringing the Michigan case and would do so again. “We have practiced law with the highest standards,” Powell said of her and her co-counsel. Wood has broadly continued to defend himself against the allegations against him and unsuccessfully sued the State Bar of Georgia in an effort to stop their investigation. The far-right lawyer, who unsuccessfully attempted to distance himself from the Michigan lawsuit and evade sanctions by saying he had no participation in the case, said on Telegram Wednesday night he would appeal the Michigan ruling, saying “the entire order sanctioning me is laughable and based on a lie.”
Powell’s battleground state lawsuits—a legal strategy the far-right attorney dubbed “releas[ing] the Kraken” after the 1981 film The Clash of the Titans—was part of a broader effort by the Trump campaign and its allies to overturn the election in battleground states. That effort ultimately failed and resulted in more than 60 failed court cases. In addition to the sanctions and debarment efforts against Powell and her co-counsel, attorney Rudy Giuliani has also had his law license suspended in New York and Washington, D.C., and plaintiffs including former President Donald Trump and the Arizona GOP have been forced to pay attorneys fees in their cases. Powell and Giuliani are also being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic for spreading false conspiracy theories involving the companies’ machines, and their attempt to stop the Dominion lawsuit failed earlier this month as a judge ruled against Powell, Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s motions to have the lawsuits against them dismissedd.