6th Circuit won’t pause CLE sanctions against Sidney Powell, other lawyers who alleged election fraud
Lawyer Sidney Powell at a news conference at the Republican National Committee on Nov. 19, 2000. Photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images.
Lawyer Sidney Powell and five other attorneys were unable to persuade a federal appeals court to stay a judge’s sanction requiring them to take continuing legal education courses for filing a frivolous election-fraud lawsuit.
The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 24 that the lawyers should have first asked the district judge for a stay of the sanction, which required them to take 12 hours of CLE on pleading standards and election law by Feb. 25.
Instead, the lawyers “waited more than two months to seek a stay, knowing the Feb. 25 deadline was imminent,” the 6th Circuit said.
Reuters, Law360 and Law.com have coverage of the order.
U.S. District Judge Linda V. Parker of the Eastern District of Michigan had sanctioned the lawyers in August 2021 for filing the lawsuit based on “speculation, conjecture and unwarranted suspicion.”
Parker had said she would report the lawyers to state disciplinary authorities. She also required the lawyers to pay attorney fees to the defendants. Parker issued her final judgment on Dec. 2, assessed the attorney-fee penalty at $175,000 and stayed the monetary portion of the sanction pending appeals.
Parker had sanctioned nine lawyers in all, but the 6th Circuit lists only six who filed an appeal of the sanctions. Those attorneys are Scott Hagerstrom, Julia Haller, Brandon Johnson, Howard Kleinhendler, Sidney Powell and Gregory J. Rohl. They sought to stay the nonmonetary penalties on Feb. 14.
The 6th Circuit said it was too late to seek a stay of the referral to ethics authorities because it already occurred.
The 6th Circuit said the lawyers had “ample time” to seek a stay of the CLE penalty in the district court.
“The attorneys’ unsupported speculation that the district court would not exercise its authority in good faith is unfounded, particularly considering the district court’s painstaking analysis in support of its sanctions order and its sua sponte recognition that a stay of the monetary portion of the judgment was appropriate,” the 6th Circuit said.
The case is King v. Whitmer.
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