Speed Reads

Kraken open the piggy bank

Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, 7 other pro-Trump lawyers ordered to pay Michigan $175,000 for 'Kraken' lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker on Thursday ordered nine lawyers allied with former President Donald Trump to reimburse Detroit and the state of Michigan $175,000 for a lawsuit challenging the results of the 2020 election. In December, Parker had dismissed the lawyers' petition to award Michigan's 16 electoral votes to Trump because, they claimed, President Biden's victory in the state was marred by fraud. 

Parker rebuked the lawyers in August, calling their election challenge "a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process" that "was never about fraud — it was about undermining the People's faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so." She ordered the lawyers, including prominent pro-Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, to undergo 12 hours of legal education and pay the legal fees Detroit and Michigan incurred defending against the lawsuit. 

The lawyers have 30 days to pay Detroit $153,000 — $29,000 less than it had requested — and Michigan $22,000. Parker said she would pause the order if the lawyers appeal. One of them, Howard Kleinhendler — who also represents Powell — promised to "promptly appeal to the Sixth Circuit," and Wood again insisted he "undertook no act in Michigan and I had no involvement in the Michigan lawsuit filed by Sidney Powell," an argument Parker dismissed in August. 

Parker said Thursday that because many of the plaintiff's attorneys "seek donations from the public to fund lawsuits like this one," she has no doubt they "have the ability to pay this sanction."

The Michigan lawsuit is one of several baseless and unsuccessful challenges to the 2020 election results known as the "Kraken" cases, after Powell's famous vow to "release the Kraken," a mythical sea creature, to devour Biden's victory.

"These lawyers abused the federal courts to advance the big lie," said David Fink, a lawyer for the city of Detroit. "They must pay a price for their misconduct, and this ruling is a good start." Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson agreed. "There are consequences to filing meritless lawsuits to grab media attention and mislead Americans," she said. "The sanctions awarded in this case are a testament to that, even if the dollar amounts pale in comparison to the damage that's already been done to our nation's democracy."