Dominion Voting Systems apparently had a hard time finding conservative attorney Sidney Powell when it came time to formally serve her with a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit in January.
“Powell evaded service of process for weeks, forcing Dominion to incur unnecessary expenses for extraordinary measures to effect service, including hiring private investigators and pursuing Powell across state lines,” a brief, three-page filing submitted Tuesday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia notes.
That claim was made by Dominion’s lead attorney Thomas A. Clare, who was responding to a recent Powell motion to extend time to file their response to the voting machine company’s original complaint.
Service of process is pro forma.
“For civil lawsuits, the defendant must be personally served with a copy of the complaint unless they agree to accept the lawsuit without being personally served,” Trial attorney and CNN legal analyst Page Pate told Law&Crime.
While current standing orders in the D.C. District Court give Powell a response deadline of Feb. 22., Powell’s attorney Lawrence J. Joseph noted that he was not brought onto the case until Feb. 4. Immediately after that, according to his extension request, he attempted to contact Dominion’s legal team but they were busy until earlier this week.
Joseph went on to note that the original petition “spans 124 pages and includes 114 exhibits totaling more than 2,000 pages, which itself can constitute good cause for an extension.” Case law non-controversially supports that argument and the appropriate citations were included in the motion.
Additionally, Powell’s attorney explained that he was not hired immediately after the defendants were sued—though service of process occurred sometime between Jan. 28 and Feb. 1.
Again, the document notes that none of this is controversial and notes that everything thus far has occurred in line with local rules. Joseph, however, made it clear for the record that the defense was not sitting “idle while the deadline for responding to the complaint was approaching.”
The defense is asking for the court to extend the response deadline to March 22.
“In sum, defendants seek this enlargement of time to enable their counsel to analyze the factual allegations in a lengthy complaint supplemented by numerous lengthy exhibits and then to research the applicable law, to prepare responses to the robust allegations that plaintiffs set forth throughout their complaint.”
There’s also the complicated issue of what, exactly, Powell and the other defendants would actually like to do here.
Again the motion for extension [emphasis in original]:
[T]he requested extension does not affect any other deadlines, and—because defendants have not yet decided how to respond to the complaint (e.g., by answer, by answer with counterclaims or cross-claims, or by motion)—it is not even yet clear what action would follow after March 22 (e.g., an opposition, a responsive pleading or motion, or a pretrial conference).
Clare and the plaintiffs, for their part, don’t dispute anything that Joseph and his clients are saying and have agreed to the motion—but themselves wanted to be clear about time and space issues that arose before the case was ever officially filed in court—specifically why they had to resort to the headline-generating use of private investigators.
“As a professional courtesy to opposing counsel, Dominion does not oppose the motion for extension of time filed by counsel for Sidney Powell and Sidney Powell P.C.” the Monday filing notes. “But the record should reflect that…Powell refused to respond to requests from Plaintiffs’ counsel about executing waivers of service of process (which would have extended the time to respond to the complaint).”
Pate explained that using private investigators to track down defendants is “very common,” but noted that it can sometimes be avoided.
“Serving someone with a lawsuit is usually handled by private investigators who track and make sure the complaint and related documents are hand delivered to the defendant,” the legal expert and litigator noted. “In a case where you’re dealing with a business or insurance company who has a lawyer, they will usually ‘waive’ formal service of process and you can just email them a copy of the complaint instead of tracking down their president, etc.”
[image via screengrab/YouTube]
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