Judge grills attorneys over suit challenging Michigan results

A federal judge grilled attorneys involved in a lawsuit that sought to overturn Michigan's election results during a hearing Monday over whether the lawyers should be sanctioned for their conduct in the case.

U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker posed pointed questions for the attorneys who made baseless claims in court that widespread election fraud caused former President TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE to lose the state to President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE.

Parker appeared concerned that the affidavits submitted by the plaintiffs' attorneys to support their election fraud claims may have violated the rules of professional conduct governing lawyers in federal court. 

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"I need to point out here that my concern is that the counsel here have submitted affidavits that suggest and make the public believe that there was something wrong with the election and that is what this is all about," said the judge, who was appointed by former President Obama. "That's what these affidavits were designed to show, that there was something wrong in Michigan, there was something wrong in Wayne County."

The lengthy and crowded virtual hearing was contentious, with attorneys clashing with each other and the judge, as several filings were scrutinized one by one for their propriety.

The city of Detroit and Michigan's secretary of state asked the court to impose sanctions after the lawsuit failed to alter the results of the election. The local and state officials are calling for the plaintiffs to reimburse the legal costs, and Detroit is even seeking an order prohibiting the plaintiffs' lawyers from practicing law in the Eastern District of Michigan. 

Plaintiffs filed the lawsuit just weeks after Election Day, alleging public officials and voting machine companies "illegally and fraudulently" manipulated votes in the state "to elect Joe Biden as President of the United States."

Some of the attorneys facing potential sanctions sought to distance themselves from the case. Lin Wood, an attorney who has helped orchestrate several lawsuits seeking to overturn the election in Trump's favor, denied any involvement in the Michigan case, suggesting that his name was included on a filing without his knowledge.

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Sidney Powell, an outspoken Trump ally who helped lead the nationwide legal effort, was defiant in the face of sanctions despite her claims being thrown out of court across the board.

"I have practiced law for 43 years and have never witnessed a proceeding like this," Powell said. "I take full responsibility for the pleadings in this case."

"We had a legal obligation to the country and to the electors to raise these issues," she added. "It is the duty of lawyers in the highest tradition of the practice of law to raise unpopular issues."

But Parker at times during the hearing appeared displeased with the evidence that was presented to her, suggesting that it was presented in bad faith and unworthy of being submitted in a court proceeding. At one point, the judge took issue with an affidavit from someone who said he saw two people hand plastic bags to Postal Service workers in Detroit and "considered" that they could have been improperly submitting ballots.

"I don't think I've really ever seen an affidavit that has made so many leaps," Parker said. "This is really fantastical. So my question to counsel here is how could any of you as officers of the court present this type of an affidavit?"