Supreme Court Upholds Sanctions Against Pro-Trump Lawyers Sidney Powell, Lin Wood in 2020 Election Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an appeal by a number of Trump-aligned lawyers who challenged the results of the 2020 election in Michigan.
Supreme Court Upholds Sanctions Against Pro-Trump Lawyers Sidney Powell, Lin Wood in 2020 Election Case
Lawyer Sidney Powell speaks to media while flanked by President Donald Trump lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (L) and Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis at a press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, on Nov. 19, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Tom Ozimek

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to undo sanctions against a handful of pro-Trump lawyers—including Sidney Powell and Lin Wood—who filed a lawsuit challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election in Michigan.

In a Feb. 20 order list, the Supreme Court denied certiorari without comment, leaving in place sanctions against seven lawyers who were part of the Michigan lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of six Republican voters.

The failed suit, brought as part of a string of “Kraken” lawsuits that Ms. Powell championed, sought emergency relief in the form of eliminating all mail ballots from being counted in the 2020 election, or disqualifying Michigan’s electoral college votes from being counted in the final tally. It also called for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to transmit certified election results that declared “President Donald Trump is the winner of the election.”

In August 2021, U.S. District Judge Linda Parker ordered Ms. Powell and the other lawyers to pay a $175,000 penalty in a 110-page order that called their Michigan election challenge lawsuit “frivolous” and a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

Ms. Powell has argued in court filings that her conduct was reasonable and that she had vetted her election fraud claims before filing the lawsuit.

The Supreme Court has turned down other requests from attorneys opposing court sanctions for lawsuits they filed challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election.

‘Chilling Effect on Zealous Advocacy’

Judge Parker, a nominee of President Barack Obama, said in her order that Ms. Powell waited too long to bring the lawsuit and said the voter fraud claims on which it was based were “nothing but speculation and conjecture.” In addition to a monetary penalty, the judge ordered that Ms. Powell and the others be referred to the bar associations in their respective states for disciplinary proceedings.
In June 2023, a panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld the monetary and disciplinary sanctions against Ms. Powell, Mr. Wood, and the other attorneys, though it reduced the monetary sanctions to roughly $150,000.
Ms. Powell and the others then filed a petition requesting that the full appeals court rehear the case, arguing in their request for a rehearing en banc that the smaller panel’s order “creates extraordinary adverse implications for the practice of law” and that it “creates an unprecedented and impermissible chilling effect on zealous advocacy and the willingness of any counsel to accept controversial cases.”
In August 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit denied a request by Ms. Powell and the others to rehear their appeal regarding the sanctions.
Ms. Powell and the other attorneys then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2023, arguing in their petition for a writ of certiorari that the sanctions “chill and burden the First Amendment right to petition in unpopular cases.” They also objected to the sanctions on technical grounds.

“The petition raises important issues of procedural and substantive due process regarding sanctions and even more important issues of First Amendment rights and electoral integrity,” their complaint reads.

The Supreme Court decision to deny Ms. Powell’s application for a writ of certiorari means that the sanctions are upheld.

Ms. Powell and the other lawyers were not immediately available for comment. They have argued in court filings that they followed all ethics rules and that the sanctions were improper.

Mr. Wood told The Associated Press in an email in 2021 that he had no involvement in the Michigan lawsuit filed by Ms. Powell and that his name was on it because he said he told Ms. Powell he would make himself available if she needed an experienced litigator to help with the case.
In July 2023, Mr. Wood announced his retirement from practicing law rather than be disbarred by the state of Georgia.

Since the 2020 election, several other lawyers who were either retained by President Trump or had promoted his claims of voter fraud have faced disbarment.

For example, Jenna Ellis was censured by the Colorado Bar for making what it claimed were false statements about the 2020 election. Former Trump attorney John Eastman, a law dean at Chapman University, is facing disbarment in California.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a longtime Trump ally and lawyer, had his license suspended following the election as well.

Ms. Powell, who entered into a plea deal with prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, in a separate election-related case, is also facing disbarment.

Guilty Plea

In October 2023, Ms. Powell accepted a plea bargain in Fulton County, pleading guilty to six misdemeanors related to efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential results in Georgia.

Ms. Powell and 18 co-defendants, including President Trump, were charged with violating the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a law designed to fight organized crime.

She also faced additional charges related to the removal and use of voting machines in Coffee County.

Her plea deal didn’t require her to plead guilty to the racketeering charge. As part of the deal, she paid $2,700 in restitution to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

President Trump, who has pleaded not guilty in the case, has called it a blatant attempt to interfere in the 2024 presidential election.