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Detroit lawyers attack claims of legal team that sought to overturn election

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

The nine lawyers who tried to reverse Michigan's 2020 election are now searching for "excuses to avoid accountability," attorneys for the city of Detroit wrote in a filing Wednesday as they continue a high-profile push for sanctions.

Detroit U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker is weighing whether to levy financial and professional penalties against the lawyers after they unsuccessfully asked the court to name Donald Trump Michigan's winner, based on conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated assertions of fraud.

During a six-hour hearing on July 12, some of the attorneys attempted to distance themselves from the case. But the legal team for Detroit, a city that has been at the center of election-related claims, attacked their arguments in a brief on Wednesday.

Attorney Lin Wood, member of President Donald Trump's legal team, gestures while speaking during a rally on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Alpharetta, Ga.

"All nine of these lawyers have one thing in common — they knew that their names were on the signature blocks and not one of them asked to be removed," wrote the attorneys for the city of Detroit. "They allowed their names and reputations as attorneys to be used to endorse this mendacious litigation, and now they should answer for the harm they caused."

Detroit's new filing focused heavily on conservative lawyers Sidney Powell of Texas and Lin Wood of Georgia, two of the most active players in the national movement to undermine the 2020 election.

During the July 12 sanctions hearing, Wood said he had no involvement "whatsoever" in the case despite his name being listed on the initial lawsuit, filed on behalf of six Republicans.

"My name was placed on there, but I had no involvement," Wood said at one point. "So I haven't read — didn't read the complaint, wasn't aware of the affidavits. I just had no involvement whatsoever in it."

"I didn’t receive any notice about this until I saw something in the newspaper about being sanctioned," Wood added of the motion for sanctions.

However, the lawyers for Detroit, which intervened as a defendant in the case, noted that Wood tweeted about the litigation and the push for sanctions against him on Dec. 15 and Jan. 5.

Lin Wood tweeted this on Dec. 15, 2020, in response to an article about the push for sanctions. Later, he said he wasn't aware of the motion until later.

"When you get falsely accused by the likes of David Fink & Marc Elias of Perkins Coie (sic) (The Hillary Clinton Firm) in a propaganda rag like Law & Crime, you smile because you know you are over the target & the enemy is running scared," Wood tweeted about Detroit's push for sanctions on Dec. 15.

David Fink is one of the attorneys representing Detroit in the case. Fink and his legal team also said Michigan-based lawyer Gregory Rohl, who was involved in the lawsuit to overturn the election, stated in an affidavit that he had been asked to assist "litigation involving alleged election fraud in Michigan which was being spearheaded by Sidney Powell and Lin Wood."

In a brief submitted in the Delaware Supreme Court, Wood's counsel said he had "represented plaintiffs challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election in Michigan and Wisconsin," according to Detroit's new filing.

"Like any bully, when Wood thought he was safe and it might help him, he admitted his involvement in Michigan, but, now that he is personally at risk, he cowardly abandons his comrades and feigns ignorance," Detroit's brief said.

As for Powell, a January filing arguing against sanctions said she wasn't "a signer to the pleadings" in the case. Detroit's attorneys noted, however, that during the July 12 hearing, Powell said she took "full responsibility myself for the pleadings in this case."

Detroit's team also argued against the claim from Powell and her colleagues that they had expedited the proceedings and terminated them once they were no longer viable.

In February 2021 — weeks after President Joe Biden's inauguration — Powell suggested on the social media platform Telegram the Michigan case was still alive in the U.S. Supreme Court, according to the Detroit filing.

For months, lawyers for Detroit and the state have argued the court should impose penalties to discourage similar litigation in the future. The attorneys for the city of Detroit have asked the court to refer the Republicans' counsel 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.

Powell has said "the duty of lawyers" was to raise "difficult and even unpopular issues."

"We have practiced law with the highest standards," Powell said during the July 12 hearing. "We would file the same complaints again. We welcome an opportunity to actually prove our case. No court has ever given us that opportunity."

Biden won Michigan's election by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points. A series of court rulings, including one by Parker, an investigation by the GOP-controlled Senate Oversight Committee and more than 200 reviews by election officials have upheld the outcome.

cmauger@detroitnews.com