9 lawyers who tried to reverse Michigan election complete required classes

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

The nine lawyers who unsuccessfully attempted to overturn Michigan's 2020 presidential election reported completing court-ordered continuing legal education courses by their midnight deadline Friday.

The 12 hours of required classes were part of sanctions set by U.S. District Judge Linda  Parker in an Aug. 25 ruling. Parker said the penalties were "required to deter the filing of future frivolous lawsuits designed primarily to spread the narrative that our election processes are rigged and our democratic institutions cannot be trusted."

Attorney Lin Wood, left, and Attorney Sidney Powell.

Parker's order gave the nine attorneys, including Texas lawyer Sidney Powell, six months to complete the courses: six hours on pleading standards and six hours on election law.

Powell led legal pushes in multiple states to try to reverse election results in a bid to help Republican Donald Trump keep the presidency. Powell once described her efforts as releasing the "kraken."

In Michigan, Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points. A series of court rulings, more than 200 audits and an investigation by the GOP-controlled state Senate Oversight Committee have upheld the outcome.

On the day before Thanksgiving in 2020, six Republicans filed their unsuccessful lawsuit in Michigan's Eastern District, citing conspiracy theories about voting machines and unproven claims of fraud. They argued that Parker should direct the state's 16 presidential electors to vote for Trump. 

The six Republicans were represented by the nine attorneys who were later sanctioned.

The suit seeking to overturn the election represented "a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process," Parker ruled. Those behind the case sought to deceive the federal court and Americans "into believing that rights were infringed, without regard to whether any laws or rights were in fact violated," the judge added.

Parker ordered the attorneys pay $175,250 in legal fees and to complete 12 hours of continuing legal education by the end of the day Friday. Also, copies of her Aug. 25 sanction decision were sent to disciplinary authorities for lawyers, referring the matter for investigation and possible suspension or disbarment.

Six of the lawyers involved have appealed Parker's sanctions order, which has delayed the payment of the legal fees. Powell and others have contended that they had a duty to raise difficult issues on behalf of their clients.

On Thursday, a day before the continuing education deadline, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied a motion to delay the non-monetary sanctions.

In an "emergency" motion, six of the lawyers, including Powell, argued it was "a flagrant First Amendment violation to require that they be re-educated to the district court’s satisfaction."

A three-judge appeals panel rejected the motion, saying the lawyers should have first sought to delay the education requirements at the district court level, which they didn't.

By midnight Friday, Powell and lawyers Scott Hagerstrom, Julia Haller, Brandon Johnson, Stefanie Lambert Junttila Howard Kleinhendler, Emily Newman, Gregory Rohl and Lin Wood had filed affidavits saying they completed their required classes.

Wood of Georgia said his 12 hours included a two-hour course entitled, "Vote by Mail, Early Voting and Digitized Election Administration" and a class called, "International Political Influence and Corruption in Elections: Will Recent Events Lead to Stricter U.S. Regulation."

cmauger@detroitnews.com