- A federal judge criticized “Kraken” lawyers including Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood on Monday.
- The remarks were at a hearing about whether they should face sanctions over their election lawsuits.
- The judge suggested the lawyers had submitted affidavits in “bad faith,” calling them “fantastical.”
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A federal judge on Monday excoriated a group of Republican-aligned lawyers including Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood over their legal efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
US District Judge Linda Parker made the comments at a contentious hearing on Zoom whose purpose was to determine whether the lawyers should face sanctions.
Parker repeatedly criticized the attorneys as failing to do “minimal” research on the “evidence” they presented as part of their multipronged effort – which Powell called the “Kraken” – to nullify the election results in states including Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Arizona.
“The court is concerned that these affidavits were submitted in bad faith,” Parker said.
After the so-called Kraken failed, Michigan and the city of Detroit filed complaints with the bar seeking punishment for Powell, Wood, and the lawyers who had signed on to their lawsuits, including Julia Haller, Howard Kleinhendler, Gregory Rohl, Brandon Johnson, Scott Hagerstrom, and Stefanie Lambert Junttila.
Wood sought to distance himself from the Kraken at the beginning of the hearing, saying he “played absolutely no role in the drafting of the complaint” in Michigan.
“I did not review any of the documents with respect to the complaint,” Wood said, later adding, “I just had no involvement in it whatsoever.”
But David Fink, an attorney representing Detroit, contested that claim, saying that Wood had endorsed the effort on social media and that Wood’s own lawyer had said he was associated with the case.
“He’s ready to tell people when it helps him that he’s involved in this case,” Fink said. He later accused the Kraken team of “claiming things that couldn’t have happened, either by law or fact,” and of “not vetting anything that they find.”
Parker also criticized the lawyers for filing affidavits without adequately investigating their claims.
“I don’t think I’ve ever really seen an affidavit” like this, Parker said after reading through one whose author speculated at length about whether the US Postal Service had tampered with mail ballots in the 2020 election.
“This is really fantastical,” Parker said. “How can any of you, as officers of the court, present this type of an affidavit?”
Haller responded that the affiant had submitted information he believed to be true.
“You think that by the language in the affidavit, Ms. Haller, that he is stating that he actually believes his conclusions to be true?” Parker pressed.
Shortly after, Powell spoke for the first time in the hearing, saying that they had filed a “massive” federal lawsuit alleging nationwide election fraud and that the only way to test those allegations was through the “crucible” of a trial.
The judge dismissed Powell’s statement, saying that “volume” “certainly doesn’t equate with legitimacy.”
Fink piled on. The Kraken team “made these allegations based on the paranoid delusions of some witness who never even gets to the punchline,” he said. If they don’t have evidence, they can’t make “miscellaneous, defamatory, and, frankly, phony” allegations, he added.
In his closing remarks, Fink accused the plaintiffs of having “played a very strange game of passing the buck” as it related to their role in the Kraken lawsuits.
He noted that Monday’s hearing came a little over six months after the deadly Capitol insurrection on January 6, adding that it “horrified most of us, maybe not all of us, on the screen,” at which point Wood interrupted and accused Fink of defamation.
The argument grew so heated that the court reporter interjected, noted that the hearing had been going on since 8:30 a.m. ET, and asked the lawyers to stop talking over each other so that she could accurately document the proceeding.
Parker reimposed order, and Fink accused the Kraken lawyers of using their licenses to “abuse the processes” of the court in a “devastating way.”
Fink also drew a direct line between the Kraken team’s efforts and the Capitol siege.
“Because of the lies spread in this courtroom, not only did people die on January 6, but many people throughout the world … came to doubt the strength of our democratic institutions in this country,” he said, adding that the court had a responsibility to sanction the Kraken lawyers.
“Because of the way that these lawyers have dishonored our profession, because of the way that these lawyers have taken advantage of this court and this courtroom,” the Kraken team should be referred to the bar for disciplinary proceedings, he said, adding that they should also be referred to the chief judge of the Eastern District of Michigan and prohibited from ever practicing law in the district.
Powell later said that she objected to “nearly everything” Fink said and that she’d never witnessed anything like his remarks in her years of being an attorney.
Parker then thanked Powell and the other lawyers for their remarks and wrapped the hearing, saying that though it was a long proceeding, “it has been a necessary day.”