Nine lawyers allied with former President Donald Trump have been ordered to pay Detroit and Michigan a total of US$175,000 (NZ$257,932) in sanctions for abusing the court system with a sham lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results.
The money, which must be paid within 30 days, will cover the legal costs of defending against the suit, which were more than US$153,000 for the city and nearly US$22,000 for the state.
US District Judge Linda Parker, who agreed to impose sanctions in August in a scathing opinion, rejected most of the attorneys' objections to Detroit's proposed award, but she did reduce it by about US$29,000.
Those sanctioned include Sidney Powell, L. Lin Wood and seven other lawyers who were part of the lawsuit filed on behalf of six Republican voters after Joe Biden's 154,000-vote victory over Trump.
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"Plaintiffs' attorneys, many of whom seek donations from the public to fund lawsuits like this one ... have the ability to pay this sanction," Parker wrote.
She previously ordered each of the lawyers to undergo 12 hours of legal education, including six hours in election law.
Michigan's top three elected officials — Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, all Democrats — are seeking the disbarment of four of the nine attorneys, including Powell. She is licensed in Texas. The other three are admitted to practice in Michigan.
Powell could not be reached for comment. Wood said he will appeal the order.
"I undertook no act in Michigan and I had no involvement in the Michigan lawsuit filed by Sidney Powell," he said in an email. Wood's name was on the lawsuit, but he has insisted he had no role other than to tell Powell he would be available if she needed a seasoned litigator.
Powell is best known for saying she would "release the kraken", a mythical sea creature, to destroy Biden's claim on the White House. But baseless lawsuits in Michigan and elsewhere went nowhere, and even the Trump campaign's legal team moved to distance itself from her.
"There are consequences to filing meritless lawsuits to grab media attention and mislead Americans," Benson, the state's chief election official, said in a statement. "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."