'Frivolous' and 'in bad faith': Judge sanctions Colorado lawyers for election lawsuit

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The lawyers will have to pay the legal fees of 18 different people and entities they sued over the lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

A federal judge in Colorado on Wednesday sanctioned a pair of lawyers in Colorado who filed a failed lawsuit that sought to overturn ex-President Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 election, charging the attorneys with making "patently frivolous arguments" and filing a suit that had "no plausible good faith justification."

"I do find bad faith with respect to the filing," Judge N. Reid Neureiter wrote in the 68-page decision that excoriated the lawyers who filed the lawsuit. "No reasonable attorney would have believed Plaintiffs, as registered voters and nothing more, had standing to bring this suit."

The two attorneys — Gary D. Fielder and Ernest J. Walker — will have to pay the to-be-determined legal fees of the 18 people and entities they sued for $160 billion in damages. The people they sued include multiple elected officials in states Trump lost — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers — as well as Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, among others.

The sanctions are related to a case the lawyers filed on Dec. 22, 2020 — more than a month after the presidential election and after the Electoral College had already met to vote on President Joe Biden's victory. The entire case was dismissed in April, and in his sanction decision Neureiter called the lawsuit "one enormous conspiracy theory."

"In short, this was no slip-and-fall at the local grocery store," Neureiter wrote of the lawsuit that the plaintiffs filed. "Albeit disorganized and fantastical, the Complaint’s allegations are extraordinarily serious and, if accepted as true by large numbers of people, are the stuff of which violent insurrections are made."

Neureiter added that the sanctions are warranted due because the plaintiffs filed the suit with a "woeful lack of investigation into the law and (under the circumstances) the facts."

"I understand that sanctions are to be rarely imposed, and that the improper or excessive use of sanctions could deter creative lawyers from filing cases reasonably arguing for extensions or modifications of existing law," the judge wrote. "But this is not such a suit."

The failed lawsuits the two lawyers were sanctioned for was one of many filed by Trump allies in the wake of Trump's loss.

The effort to overturn the election through the courts was ultimately unsuccessful. And now multiple lawyers face similar sanctions for their role in the endeavor.

For example, Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood face possible sanctions for their role in filing a lawsuit seeking to overturn Trump's loss in Michigan.

In July, a federal judge similarly excoriated Powell and Wood for their efforts, though the judge has yet to make a ruling on sanctions.

Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani was barred from practicing law in New York over his role in the failed election lawsuits, with judges in New York determining that Giuliani made "demonstrably false" statements in his arguments.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.