In the first federal court reckoning since the failure of the so-called “Kraken” litigation, a judge on Monday told pro-Trump lawyers Lin Wood, Sidney Powell and their co-counsel that she was concerned that their legal team allowed dodgy affidavits to be filed.
“The court is concerned that these affidavits were submitted in bad faith,” U.S. District Judge Linda Parker said in a blockbuster remark.
Earlier in hearing, Judge Parker put the lawyers on notice: “When you come to the Eastern District of Michigan, you familiarize yourself in the local rules.”
More than half a year ago on Dec. 7, Judge Parker decisively rejected Powell and Wood’s effort to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in Michigan in a scathing, 36-page ruling.
“Plaintiffs ask this court to ignore the orderly statutory scheme established to challenge elections and to ignore the will of millions of voters,” Parker wrote. “This, the Court cannot, and will not, do.”
“The People have spoken,” she added.
Named after a mythical octopus-like creature, the “Kraken” is the name that Powell gave to her quadruple-armed effort to overturn election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia. Each bid failed, and every appeal was rejected. Parker convened the hearing on Monday to consider whether every lawyer who participated in legal offensive in her court should face sanctions, up to their referrals for disbarment proceedings.
“We filed this motion on Jan. 5th, one day before the civil insurrection in Washington,” Detroit’s lawyer David Fink noted in his closing remarks, referring to his sanctions motion.
“One day later, that ominous prophesy came true,” Fink added.
Calling the Kraken litigation a vessel of the “Big Lie,” Fink added: “Nobody can undo what happened that day, but because of the lies spread in this courtroom, not only did people die on that day,” people around the world came to distrust U.S. democratic processes.
Lin Wood Attempts to Distance Himself from the ‘Kraken’
Parker demanded that every lawyer who signed a pleading or a brief appear virtually in her courtroom via Zoom, in proceedings made public via YouTube. On Wednesday, the judge denied their request to skip the hearing and appear through their counsel. That ruling led to a bustling Zoom courtroom with Powell, Wood, and their co-counsel Stefanie Junttila, Scott Hagerstrom, Julia Haller, Brandon Johnson, Howard Kleinhendler, and Gregory Rohl.
Toward the start of the hearing, their lawyer Donald Campbell disclosed Kleinhelder actually drafted the Michigan complaint, with help from Powell. Wood quickly jockeyed to distance himself from the litigation.
“I played absolutely no role in the drafting of the complaint,” Wood chimed in early, distancing himself from the genesis of the lawsuit.
Wood doubled down on distancing himself later in the hearing, claiming he had no role in any of the other filings, either.
“I did not review any of the documents with respect to the complaint,” Wood said, adding later: “I just had no involvement in it whatsoever.”
Detroit’s lawyer scoffed at Wood’s attempt to distance himself from the case. Wood, through his counsel in unrelated proceedings in Delaware, asserted that he was involved in the Michigan case, and he touted that role on social media, Fink added.
“He’s ready to tell people when it helps him that he’s involved in this case,” Fink said.
Powell added that she would not have knowingly added Wood’s name without authorization.
“Might there have been a misunderstanding?” she asked, rhetorically. “That’s certainly possible.”
A skeptical Judge Parker added: “This appears to the court to be an after-the-fact assessment.”
“An Embarrassment to the Legal Profession”
The last lawyer for the plaintiffs— Emily Newman, an ex-U.S. Agency for Global Media staffer under the Trump administration—denied any role either. Newman’s lawyer Thomas M. Buchanan downplayed his client’s ties to the case, saying she spent five hours on the matter.
From Winston & Strawn, Buchanan reps Newman separately.
Detroit’s lawyer Fink called the “Kraken” offensive an “embarrassment to the legal profession.”
“This was from the beginning to the end an attempt to get a message out that was extrajudicial,” Fink said.
Days before the hearing, Judge Parker denied a request to seal the names of “Kraken” team’s witnesses. Powell had claimed that they included military and intelligence officials whose security would be put at risk if their names were exposed. The Washington Post debunked at least two of those claims.
One such witness, alternately code-named “Spider” and “Spyder,” was revealed by the paper to be Joshua Merritt, who was touted as a “military intelligence expert” but was actually an army vehicle mechanic—and reportedly never worked in military intelligence. (Kleinhendler disputed the Post‘s reporting.)
Another witness, Terpsichore “Tore” Maras-Lindeman, was billed as a secret intelligence contractor but was depicted by the Post as a small-town fraudster because of her civil prosecution in North Dakota that led to more than $25,000 in penalties and attorneys’ fees for allegedly duping donors a supposed Christmas fundraiser. A pro-Trump podcaster, her Navy experience reportedly lasted less than a year.
In written briefings preceding today’s hearing, Detroit argued that supposed experts like these showed that the “Kraken” team had perpetrated a “fraud upon the court.”
“These folks were putting in jeopardy the safety of our republic,” Fink thundered.
“This is Really Fantastical”
Pressed about the delay in filing the lawsuit, Kleinhendler argued that it took time to find witnesses like “Spyder.” Kleinhendler and his lawyer Campbell repeatedly tested Judge Parker’s patience during the hearing. The judge asked both about why the “Kraken” team did not dismiss the case after telling the Supreme Court that it was moot on Dec. 14.
Michigan’s lawyer Heather S. Meingast said she was “flabbergasted” about the argument that the suit was somehow “reinvigorated” after that assertion to the high court.
The judge also appeared to be, pointing out there seemed to be no record of it having been made earlier.
“Are you arguing this for the first time?” Parker asked. “Is that a new argument that you’re advancing?”
Dodging the question, Campbell argued the judge did not have jurisdiction to hear the Rule 11 sanctions motion. The judge interrupted him after he launched into a monologue after she turned arguments to his adversary.
“No. No. I’m sorry, sir,” Parker interjected.
Systematically questioning what, if any, vetting the “Kraken” legal team performed on a stack of affidavits, Judge Parker tore apart the allegations inside one of those declaration.
“This is really fantastical,” Parker said.
“How could any of you as officers of the court submit this affidavit?” she added.
When Haller denied that the declaration was “fantastical,” Judge Parker added that the affidavit was “total speculation.” Throughout arguments, Haller repeatedly requested an evidentiary hearing, and she seemed audibly nervous in court, her voice appearing to waver at moments. The judge replied that she was probing what, if any, due-diligence the lawyers performed.
In bitter closing remarks, Powell claimed that the daylong proceedings make the public lack confidence in U.S. elections and the judiciary.
“Thank you for your remarks,” Judge Parker politely replied to Powell’s recriminations, adding that a ruling would be forthcoming. The judge also agreed to give the parties time for supplemental written briefings.
(Screenshot of Wood via WSB-TV; Photo of Powell via Fox News Channel/YouTube)
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