Two lawyers who filed suit challenging election results ordered to pay nearly $187K
A federal judge on Monday ordered two Colorado lawyers who filed lawsuits challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election to pay nearly $187,000.
Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter wrote in a court order that the amount would cover the legal fees of the organizations that were sued by Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker and argued that it would deter anyone else from filing similar suits.
“As officers of the Court, these attorneys have a higher duty and calling that requires meaningful investigation before prematurely repeating in court pleadings unverified and uninvestigated defamatory rumors that strike at the heart of our democratic system and were used by others to foment a violent insurrection that threatened our system of government,” Neureiter wrote in a Monday order.
Fielder and Walker filed a class-action suit in December of 2020 on behalf of American voters alleging voting machine vendor Dominion Voting Systems, government officials in four states, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan hatched a plan to steal the election from former President Trump.
Neureiter dismissed the case in April and in August ruled that both attorneys had violated their ethical obligations. He also referenced the suit at the time as “the stuff of which violent insurrections are made.”
The Monday order required the lawyers to pay more than $11,000 to cover the legal fees of the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania as well as $50,000 to Facebook and $62,930 each to Dominion and the Center for Tech and Civic Life.
“The total amount the two Plaintiffs’ counsel will have to jointly pay, adding in the stipulated awards to the States, will be approximately $186,922, which I find to be an adequate sanction award to send the appropriate message and deter such misconduct in the future, without being unnecessarily punitive,” Neureiter wrote in the order.
“I conclude that the repetition of defamatory and potentially dangerous unverified allegations is the kind of “advocacy” that needs to be chilled. Counsel should think long and hard, and do significant pre-filing research and verification, before ever filing a lawsuit like this again,” he added.
Fielder told The Hill in an emailed statement on Tuesday the court’s sanctions are under appeal in the 10th Circuit.
“It’s unfathomable that the lawyers representing the voters have to pay the attorney fees of the persons and entities that so clearly interfered with the 2020 Presidential election,” Fielder wrote, referring to unproven claims, often repeated by Trump and his supporters, that fraud marred the 2020 election.
“We are not going to stop fighting for the rights of the people to vote in free and fair Presidential elections,” Fielder added. “This is the cross to die on.”
Updated at 11:53 a.m.
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