Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Sidney Powell Could Still Be Disbarred As Court Lets Case Against Her Move Forward

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Topline
Far-right attorney Sidney Powell is still at risk of being punished for trying to overturn the 2020 election—including potentially by being disbarred—as a state judge rejected Powell’s attempt to dismiss the State Bar of Texas’ legal case against her, which accuses the lawyer of committing professional misconduct.

Attorney Sidney Powell leaves the federal district court in Washington, D.C. on June 24, 2021.

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Key Facts

Texas state District Judge Andrea Bouressa denied Powell’s motion to dismiss the state bar’s lawsuit during a hearing Wednesday, the state bar confirmed to Forbes.

The state bar’s Committee for Lawyer Discipline filed a petition against Powell in state court in March, asking the court to sanction Powell and rule she committed professional misconduct with her lawsuits seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in multiple battleground states.

Powell allegedly violated rules of professional conduct that prohibit attorneys from making false statements, using false evidence, bringing frivolous lawsuits, taking a position that causes “unreasonabl[e] delays” or “burdens” and “engag[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” the committee argued in its petition.

Powell stood behind her post-election lawsuits in her motion to dismiss the litigation, alleging the committee’s case against her was a “baseless and illegitimate suit” based on Democrats’ partisan “grievances” against her and claiming the legal action, if successful, would make it much harder for attorneys to dispute election results in the future.

Bouressa denied Powell’s request to throw out the case, but said Wednesday during the hearing that she has not yet made any judgment on the allegations against Powell and whether or not she committed misconduct, the Dallas Morning News reports.

What To Watch For
A trial determining whether Powell should be punished is scheduled to take place starting October 17, according to the case’s court docket. The state bar has asked the court to “impose an appropriate sanction” against Powell if she’s found to have committed professional misconduct, but it’s still unclear what that would be. Under the State Bar of Texas’ rules, potential punishments range from disbarment and Powell permanently losing her law license to less serious consequences, including being temporarily suspended from practicing law, being put on probation or receiving a public reprimand.

Chief Critic
“If any court had applied the same standard to our election lawsuits, there could not have been a case filed by the Texas Bar,” Powell said in an emailed statement to Forbes, saying the state bar had “diminished itself.” “It’s beyond ironic, and it should concern every practicing lawyer because now any lawyer can be subjected to the extraordinary harassment and expense of lawfare directed specifically at his or her law license whenever the other side disagrees with a filing. The Texas Bar elevated baseless grievances by Michigan politicians to baseless full-blown litigation now headed for full discovery and a trial. Discovery will be very interesting.”

Key Background
Powell brought post-election lawsuits in Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin and Georgia in the aftermath of the 2020 election, which alleged widespread fraud and sought to overturn the results—a legal strategy Powell dubbed “releas[ing] the Kraken” after the 1981 film The Clash of the Titans. All four lawsuits failed, and Powell and her co-counsel were sanctioned by the judge in the Michigan case for bringing that lawsuit, which the court ruled was “about undermining the People’s faith in our democracy and debasing the judicial process to do so.” She is also facing multiple defamation lawsuits from voting machine companies Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic for making false fraud claims about their machines, and the FBI has opened a criminal investigation involving Powell’s fundraising group Defending the Republic, her attorney has confirmed. Powell has remained defiant and stood by her election fraud claims despite the mounting consequences against her.

Tangent
The hearing against Powell came the same day as the Department of Justice asked a federal judge to investigate whether Powell and Defending the Republic are funding the far-right Oath Keepers’ legal representation in the federal government’s case against them for the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol building. Such a financial relationship could run afoul of ethics rules that restrict getting outside funding for legal defenses without informed consent, the Washington Post notes.

Further Reading
Case to rebuke Sidney Powell for pushing Donald Trump’s election narrative to continue (Dallas Morning News)

Texas State Bar Alleges Sidney Powell Committed Professional Misconduct With Election Lawsuits — Could Lead To Disbarment (Forbes)

Sidney Powell To Face Texas State Bar Investigation—Potentially Leading To Her Disbarment (Forbes)

Sidney Powell And ‘Kraken’ Lawyers Must Pay More Than $175,000 To Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer And Others (Forbes)

Sidney Powell’s Fundraising Groups Reportedly Subpoenaed As Part Of Criminal Investigation (Forbes)

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