'Kraken' attorneys want video of hearing released; judge declines

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

The attorney for seven lawyers facing sanctions for their push to overturn Michigan's 2020 election asked a federal judge Wednesday to release the six-hour video of a hearing that focused on their possible penalties.

Detroit U.S. District Judge Linda Parker denied the request within hours, saying the court had already thrown "the virtual doors to the July 12 proceeding wide open."

Attorney Donald Campbell filed the initial motion, in which he argued the distribution of the video would help his clients "refute what they believe to be public mischaracterizations" of the proceeding, which occurred on Monday.

The request came despite the rules of Michigan's Eastern District that say any recording of court proceedings "is absolutely prohibited."

Attorney Lin Wood, left, and Attorney Sidney Powell.

"On a matter of this importance for the country, the rule of law and the practice of law itself, the video of the proceedings already made should be available for the public for them to judge the arguments of counsel and the entire hearing itself," Campbell wrote in his motion.

Members of the public could watch Monday's hearing as it occurred on YouTube. The hearing was contentious throughout with Parker considering whether to impose financial penalties on the legal team behind the November lawsuit to reverse Michigan's election. The case was part of what conservative attorney Sidney Powell described as a legal effort to release the "kraken" after the election.

More than 13,000 people watched the hearing live, according to the filings on Wednesday. In her order denying the release of the video, Parker noted that access was far greater than could have been accommodated had the hearing been in person.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the city of Detroit and Wayne County voter Robert Davis have sought the sanctions.

Parker labeled elements of the unsuccessful lawsuit to have Donald Trump named Michigan's winner "fantastical," "obviously questionable" and "layers of hearsay." Parker also said lawyers have a responsibility to investigate assertions they present.

But attorney Sidney Powell, one of the lawyers at the center of the election case, refused to relent. She said "the duty of lawyers" was to raise "difficult and even unpopular issues."

"We have practiced law with the highest standards," Powell said. "We would file the same complaints again. We welcome an opportunity to actually prove our case. No court has ever given us that opportunity."

Powell is one of nine lawyers facing potential sanctions. Campbell is representing seven of them, including Powell of Texas and Lin Wood of Georgia.

On Tuesday, Davis and his attorney, Andrew Paterson, asked Parker to examine whether Wood should be held in criminal contempt for posting a message on the platform Telegram that included a recording of Powell's closing remarks.

In his motion Wednesday, Campbell said the video cut Wood shared "was made by someone else, appears on multiple Telegram channels and is part of at least one editor-posted news article."

Court rules allow a district judge to permit the recording and broadcasting of court proceedings when authorized by the Judicial Conference of the United States, Campbell added. His clients asked the court to seek permission from the Judicial Conference to rebroadcast the hearing.

"(N)o one has any valid basis to oppose such transparency of an important hearing that has already been held in public view," Campbell said of releasing the video of the hearing.

Campbell acknowledged that he had already obtained an official transcript of the processing but argued having the video would help with preparation for upcoming briefs. The recording will provide "insight into mannerisms and behavior," the attorney said in his motion.

Parker responded that attorneys routinely prepare such briefs "following a hearing without video or audio recordings of the proceedings and often without a transcript."

Lawyers for the city of Detroit previously asked the court to refer the attorneys behind the suit for disbarment proceedings, impose monetary sanctions, award legal fees to the city and require the plaintiffs themselves to post a bond before filing a suit in the future.

cmauger@detroitnews.com