Kraken down: Federal judge sanctions Lin Wood, Sidney Powell for election lawsuits, refers them for possible disbarment

AP Photo/Ben Margot

If you thought there were tears after SCOTUS flushed Texas’s election lawsuit down the toilet last December, wait until this one gets appealed up and they flush it the same way.

The opinion is long but you’ll get the full flavor from the first three pages or so, beginning with the opening words, “This lawsuit represents a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

Right. They used the gravitas of the legal system to launder innuendo about election fraud, making it seem superficially more credible than it was. Any schmuck can claim that the election was rigged on an Internet message board, but to claim in federal court that it was rigged?

Well, there must be something to it then.

There wasn’t. Judge Linda Parker held an extended hearing with Lin Wood, Sidney Powell, and other lawyers on the case last month scrutinizing the affidavits they submitted as “proof” that fraud had occurred. It didn’t go well:

One affidavit highlighted by the judge at the hearing was submitted as evidence of alleged fraudulent collusion between Democratic election workers and U.S. Postal Service employees. The affidavit was signed by a man who claimed he saw a young couple deliver several large plastic bags to a postal worker who he said appeared to be waiting for them. There were no markings on the bags or any indication of what was inside, but the witness said it was “odd” and that it “could be” ballots.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really seen an affidavit that has made so many leaps,” Parker said. “This is really fantastical. My question to counsel here is — how can any of you, as officers to the court, present this type of affidavit? Is there anything in here that is not speculative?”…

Parker pointed to several other examples of what she described as errors in the affidavits that could reasonably be seen as obvious red flags for a lawyer, including claims that some Michigan towns had voter turnout that was many times the amount of eligible voters, and that a hand recount in one town had found evidence of fraud even though no such recount had taken place.

I didn’t watch the hearing but reportedly “none of the attorneys were able to tell Judge Parker that they had done any work to verify the underlying affidavits.” Why would they have tried to so that? The lawsuit was a undisguised political ploy to try to discredit Biden’s victory in the popular imagination, not a serious probative exercise, just like Parker says. She couldn’t resist highlighting in her opinion how stupid and self-contradictory it was, too:

The point was never to win the “Kraken” lawsuits, as they didn’t have any evidence to do that. The point was simply to file them and trust that they’d cast suspicion on a disfavored political result. That’s an abuse of the legal process.

Powell, Wood, and the others are now on the hook for the state’s attorneys’ fees and will have their actions scrutinized for professional discipline by their respective state bars. Parker made a point of saying that disbarment should be on the table:

The real indignity is sentencing them to 12 hours of mandatory continuing legal education on pleading and election law, which is like sending a soldier on the battlefield back to basic training. It’s the judge telling them that they’ve fallen so far short of elementary competence in their profession that they need remedial instruction. In David French’s words, she sent them “back to school to relearn how to lawyer.”

I expect Powell and Wood, at least, will now start grumbling in the media about having been unfairly punished by an “Obama judge,” which seems not so smart to me. Parker’s whole point is that the “Kraken” lawyers used the legal system to execute a political smear. Accusing the judge in this case of being a biased partisan hack would be further evidence for a disciplinary board that Parker was right. On the other hand, does Sidney Powell care about being disciplined or even losing her law license? She’s a well-known right-wing “personality” now; that’s her real career. And besides, she has much bigger problems than having to pay Michigan’s attorneys’ fees. Much, much bigger.