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Judge Sanctions Plaintiffs’ Counsel in Presidential Election Challenge

By Noah C. Hagan posted 09-08-2021 08:33


Judge Linda Parker of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan issued a 110-page opinion and order on August 25, 2021, granting a motion for sanctions against the attorneys for plaintiffs in King v Whitmer, No 20-13134 (ED Mich Aug 25, 2021). King v Whitmer was a challenge to the November 2020 presidential election results in Michigan. In December 2020, Judge Parker denied plaintiffs’ request to decertify Michigan’s election results or to stay the delivery of the certified results to the Electoral College.

In explaining her decision, Judge Parker wrote:

The attorneys who filed the instant lawsuit abused the well-established rules applicable to the litigation process by proffering claims not backed by law; proffering claims not backed by evidence (but instead, speculation, conjecture, and unwarranted suspicion); proffering factual allegations and claims without engaging in the required prefiling inquiry; and dragging out these proceedings even after they acknowledged that it was too late to attain the relief sought.

And this case was never about fraud—it was about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so.

Id. at *1. (Emphasis in original.)

The sanctions Judge Walker imposed on the nine attorneys representing plaintiffs are

  • Paying the fees and costs incurred by the state defendants and the city of Detroit in defending the action
  • Completing at least 132 hours of continuing legal education in the subjects of pleading standards (at least 6 hours) and election law (at least 6 hours)

ICLE’s partnership includes several resources on both pleadings and a chapter on election law in Michigan Municipal Law.

1 comment



09-21-2021 12:49

Bravo, Judge Parker. Not only did these lawyers bring a case that had no merit, their actions - even in failure - eroded the public's trust in our most cherished and protected institution:  free and fair elections. To attack the cornerstone of our democracy for crass political gain is despicable, and the sanctions cannot be too stringent, IMHO.