Michigan AG Using Former Trump Lawyer Sidney Powell's 'No Reasonable Person Would Believe Me' Statements To Seek Sanctions Against Her

from the you-can-have-your-legal-defense-or-your-law-license,-but-not-both dept

In January -- shortly after the failed DC insurrection -- Dominion Voting Systems sued former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation over her repeated assertions the company was somehow involved in "stealing" the election for President Joe Biden.

As evidence of these extraordinary claims, Powell -- the self-proclaimed "kraken" -- offered up a bunch of hearsay and conjecture from QAnon-addled conspiracy theorists who took a break from trying to link prominent Democrats to ritualistic child abuse to link Dominion to a deceased Venezuelan dictator.

Accusations of vote rigging/stealing were made by Powell -- not just during press conferences and TV appearances -- but in court as sworn statements of fact. Powell's response to this lawsuit was to basically claim everyone who heard her allegations knew they were little more than heated hyperbole and expressions of her opinion.

Apparently, "everyone" also covered the judges handling her lawsuits in which she claimed her assertions were solid, fact-based, and worthy of exploration. Claiming "no one takes me seriously" may help Powell escape a defamation lawsuit, but it doesn't help her when it comes to her litigation where these same claims were expected to be taken seriously by federal courts.

Sidney Powell's inadvertent self-sabotage continues. Powell's best defense against Dominion's billion-dollar lawsuit is now being used by Michigan officials to argue the lawyer to be legally-sanctioned for lying to the courts. As Adam Klasfield reports for Law & Crime, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is wielding Powell's own statements against her to seek sanctions.

“These attorneys seemingly made statements they knew were misleading in an effort to further their false and destructive narrative,” Nessel wrote in a statement on Wednesday. “As lawyers, fidelity to the law is paramount. These individuals worked to further conspiracy theories in an effort to erode public trust in government and dismantle our systems of democracy. Their actions are inexcusable.”

Pretty much. You can't litigate using the same allegations you later claim aren't actual statements of fact. While there are some protections against defamation lawsuits for statements made in court cases, that doesn't extend to claims made in public. And when both sets of claims are pretty much identical, it becomes a real problem when you assert "no reasonable person" would believe they were "statements of fact" when that group of reasonable people now includes federal judges.

This move for sanctions is on top of the state's attempt to get Powell disbarred for attempting to overturn the state's 2020 election results with litigation state officials claimed crossed ethical lines. Governor Gretchen Whitmer's complaint against Powell make it's clear the state's serious about preventing Powell from practicing law in the state:

By filing a frivolous lawsuit based on false statements and by brazenly attempting to disenfranchise Michigan voters during the recent presidential election, she engaged in grave attorney misconduct.

Her defense in the Dominion lawsuit looks like it's going to cost her even more than what Dominion may eventually extract from Powell via its lawsuit. The best course of action would have been to not do any of the things Powell did months ago. A steady stream of stunt litigation based on allegations apparently compiled by legal experts on 4chan is a great way to find yourself out of a job and a whole lot of money.

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Filed Under: dana nessel, defamation, michigan, sanctions, sidney powell
Companies: dominion


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  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 12 Apr 2021 @ 10:58am

    Hmm, lying to courts I had evidence of voter fraud = approx $50,0000 + disbarred in multiple states.

    Lying about Dominion = $1,500,000,000.

    Gee, no wonder her lawyers are going for the first one. They want to get paid too. That Trump grifting gets around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bruce C., 13 Apr 2021 @ 6:12am

      Re: legal strategy

      Not to mention that no matter which way the Dominion case goes, she's likely to be sanctioned anyway.

      The kraken in mythology wasn't known for its intelligence or choosiness. So she seems to deserve the nickname.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 12 Apr 2021 @ 11:18am

    'No Reasonable Person Would Believe Me'

    Well, that takes out the Trump half of the country.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 12 Apr 2021 @ 11:29am

    So it seems "It wasn't defamatory, it was perjury! wasn't the genius legal claim she thought it would be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2021 @ 12:09pm

      Re:

      Hopefully this backfires so spectacularly that she loses both sets of cases. This is almost definitely "caught lying" type of backpedaling and therefore both cases could win out against her.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        DB (profile), 12 Apr 2021 @ 1:14pm

        Re: Re:

        The measured statement, "These attorneys seemingly made statements they knew were misleading", suggests that the AG isn't going to say anything that will help Powell's other defenses.

        I expect that she will lose cases until organizations give up solely because it's just bouncing the rubble. But that should only happen after she is disbarred.

        I'm a little surprised that she hasn't gone the "you can't disbar me, I'm inactive" path:
        https://fightcopyrighttrolls.com/2014/01/15/how-to-avoid-disbarment-disbar-yourself/

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Tanner Andrews (profile), 16 Apr 2021 @ 6:11am

          Re: Re: Re: disciplinary resignation

          I'm a little surprised that she hasn't gone the "you can't disbar me, I'm inactive" path:

          Just so you know, that does not work in all states. Not sure if it actually works in any, for that matter. You can generally give up the license and agree to never reapply, but anything short of that leaves you within the clutches of many states' integrated bars.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 13 Apr 2021 @ 5:10am

      Re:

      "So it seems "It wasn't defamatory, it was perjury! wasn't the genius legal claim she thought it would be."

      It is somehow the exact type of blunder you'd expect from the short-sighted gormless morons following Trump; She tried to use the Tucker Carlson defense, simply because he had done so successfully.
      But there's a world of difference between someone claiming he was acting as an entertainer while pushing bullshit out of a studio, and a lawyer trying to claim they pushed that same bullshit in the face of a judge in a court of law.

      If we needed any more evidence that the modern republican has taught itself to ignore "context", this would be it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    MightyMetricBatman, 12 Apr 2021 @ 11:46am

    4chan legal advice is worth every penny you paid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anon E Mouse, 13 Apr 2021 @ 8:55am

      Re:

      First, nice.

      Second, I don't believe for a second this was 4chan's doing. Not nearly enough racism, personal attacks, black humour, and circular logic in it. Doesn't make your post any less funny though.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Apr 2021 @ 11:50am

    A steady stream of stunt litigation based on allegations apparently compiled by legal experts on 4chan is a great way to find yourself out of a job and a whole lot of money.

    It’s also a great way to entertain everyone who isn’t neck-deep in the Big Lie and enjoys watching delusional people slam head-first into reality. Popcorn, anyone? 🍿

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Christenson, 12 Apr 2021 @ 12:29pm

      Re: Popcorn futures!

      Stop manipulating the popcorn futures market!!! :-)

      "Reasonable People" must exclude judges...or cuts off the defamation argument at the knees. Sounds lose-lose to me!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 12 Apr 2021 @ 1:03pm

        Stop manipulating the popcorn futures market!

        Sorry, Big Corn pays me too much to stop.

        …oh crap, I shouldn’t have said Big Corn pays me.

        …oh crap, I shouldn’t have said I was paid to manipulate the market.

        …oh crap, I certainly shouldn’t have said that on a public-facing forum.

        It’s too hot today…

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 12 Apr 2021 @ 2:16pm

        Re: Re: Popcorn futures!

        Stop manipulating the popcorn futures market!!! :-)

        What use is a popcorn bubble that doesn't burst?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2021 @ 12:01pm

    When most people get in a hole like this, they stop digging. Powell doubles down and gets a backhoe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Khym Chanur (profile), 12 Apr 2021 @ 12:08pm

    offered up a bunch of hearsay and conjecture from QAnon-addled conspiracy theorists

    Those same conspiracy theorists probably think that Powell somehow tricked Dominion into suing her, her saying "I didn't actually believe what I said" is all a part of that trick, and Dominion has fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Apr 2021 @ 12:30pm

    'That was supposed to be my get-out-of-lawsuit-free card!'

    Oh do I hope that she honestly thought that she could argue her way out of a defamation lawsuit by claiming that no-one would or should take her seriously, the look on her face when she found out that her own words were being used against her like this would be priceless if that were the case, with the only thing better being if the judge laughed out her argument leaving her on the hook for the defamation and perjury.

    Arguing that you weren't deliberately lying about a company in public because you were instead lying to judges about the company in court, ah the fun places someone can find themselves in when they're batshit insane and/or a grifter jumping on the bandwagon for fun and profit...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 13 Apr 2021 @ 5:13am

      Re: 'That was supposed to be my get-out-of-lawsuit-free card!'

      "...ah the fun places someone can find themselves in when they're batshit insane and/or a grifter jumping on the bandwagon for fun and profit..."

      Well, what can I say...like her boss she is a Very Stable Genius with a 'Very, very, very large brain'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jimb (profile), 12 Apr 2021 @ 3:08pm

    Brains, or the lack thereof...

    If she were smart, she never would have been on "Trump's team". The best people, the very best people...

    ... run as fast as they can the other way when Trump comes calling.

    Lawyer Powell deserves nothing less than disbarment, and fines that wipe her out, and take every penny of hypothetical future earnings from Fox "News" and "News"max appearances.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 13 Apr 2021 @ 8:48am

      Re: Brains, or the lack thereof...

      If she were smart, she never would have been on "Trump's team". The best people, the very best people...

      ... run as fast as they can the other way when Trump comes calling.

      Well, that's his recipe for success. The very best people are a minority, and his manner of operation requires suckers. Working with suckers is severely impaired by having even a minority of smart people around, so success requires driving them out and make them unpopular.

      He is restructuring the Republican Party and the media, and the restructured Republican Party and media then forego the inclusion of sane people.

      Basically it is how chronic lead poisoning work, with lead getting used in the bones instead of calcium.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2021 @ 5:33pm

    What was it that was said on the previous Powell thread? "Discovery will be fun"?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BernardoVerda (profile), 12 Apr 2021 @ 6:30pm

    ( ( ( schadenfreude ) ) )

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2021 @ 9:50am

    I predict: One more seriously gentle wrist-slapping coming up. Sigh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    restless94110 (profile), 14 Apr 2021 @ 6:05am

    Curious

    So the batshit crazy totalitarian Michigan AG is trying to impose sanctions to shut up Sydney Powell?

    And how is that a good thing?

    And why is that something you would write about?

    You are now in favor of shutting down dissent? Is this the TechDirt stand now?

    What universe are you in?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2021 @ 10:43am

      Re: Curious

      dissent

      Lying is now dissent?

      Man, the excuses you guys are coming up with look more desperate every day. Running out of bullshit from the Central Office, now that Trump's been relegated to the shitholes of social media?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Khym Chanur (profile), 14 Apr 2021 @ 10:44pm

      Re: Curious

      So when, as a defense against the accusation of defamation, she claimed she didn't really believe the things she had said, that claim was a lie, she actually believes what she said about Dominion, and this should be obvious enough that the AG shouldn't do anything?

      Or her claim in her defense is true, she actually doesn't believe the things she said in court about Dominion, but because she also said those same things to the public the AG should ignore her lying to the court?

      Or what?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2021 @ 5:57pm

      Re: Curious

      Your tears are delicious.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Toom1275 (profile), 16 Apr 2021 @ 1:33am

      Re: Curious

      Reality check:
      The only batshit totalitarians were the ones that failed to steal the election.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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