A federal judge in Colorado has sanctioned two lawyers who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 election late last year, finding that the case was “frivolous,” “not warranted by existing law” and filed “in bad faith.”
In a scathing 68-page opinion, Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter found that the lawyers made little effort to corroborate information they had included in the suit, which argued there had been a vast national conspiracy to steal the election from former president Donald Trump.
He particularly called out the duo, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker, for quoting Trump in their legal filing, which cited a presidential tweet that claimed without evidence that voting machines manufactured by the company Dominion Voting Systems had “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide.” Neureiter called that allegation “highly disputed and inflammatory” and said the lawyers made no efforts to verify it.
The two lawyers filed the case as a class action on behalf of 160 million American voters, alleging a complicated plot engineered by Dominion, Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan and elected officials in four states. They had sought $160 billion in damages.
The case was dismissed in April, but Neureiter ruled that the attorneys had violated their ethical obligations by lodging it in the first place and by peppering their motions with wild allegations that they had made little effort to substantiate. Legal rules prohibit attorneys from clogging the court systems with frivolous motions or from filing information that is not true.
Calling the suit “one enormous conspiracy theory,” Neureiter ordered that the duo must pay the legal fees of all the individuals and companies they had sued — 18 separate entities in all — as a way to deter future similar cases.
Neureiter ordered the defendants to compile records showing how much time they had spent on the case and their typical billing rates to determining how much the two lawyers will owe.
“In short, this was no slip-and-fall at the local grocery store,” wrote Neureiter, who was appointed as a magistrate judge by other judges. “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.”
Holding bad actor lawyers personally accountable for destroying the nation is the ticket to making this less likely in the future. Right now, these people just think that Herr Trump or maybe Herr DeSantis will pay them off down the road. And maybe they will. But if you make them pay up with real money for all the wasted time from other lawyers, well, that might make these horrible humans think twice before just repeating Trump tweets as legal argument.