It's not exactly a secret that in the wake of Donald Trump's 2020 defeat, quite a few Republican lawyers filed strange lawsuits, making all kinds of bizarre claims related to the elections. Those cases, not surprisingly, failed.
But while the failure of the lawsuits was important, the fact that the dubious cases were filed in the first place remains relevant -- because lawyers who waste everyone's time with baseless cases are supposed to face consequences.
And with increasing frequency, they are. The Washington Post reported yesterday:
A federal judge in Colorado has sanctioned two lawyers who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 election late last year, finding that the case was "frivolous," "not warranted by existing law" and filed "in bad faith." In a scathing 68-page opinion, Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter found that the lawyers made little effort to corroborate information they had included in the suit, which argued there had been a vast national conspiracy to steal the election from former president Donald Trump.
The lawyers in question -- Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker -- alleged a bizarre plot in their lawsuit, involving election officials, Facebook, and Dominion Voting Systems, among others.
Not surprisingly, the case was dismissed months ago, but yesterday's developments focused on a necessary second step: Neureiter ordered the conspiracy-embracing lawyers to pay their many defendants' legal fees. The Post's report added, "Neureiter ordered the defendants to compile records showing how much time they had spent on the case and their typical billing rates to determine how much the two lawyers will owe."
"In short, this was no slip-and-fall at the local grocery store," Neureiter wrote. "Albeit disorganized and fantastical, the Complaint's allegations are extraordinarily serious and, if accepted as true by large numbers of people, are the stuff of which violent insurrections are made."
If this sounds at all familiar, it's because Fielder and Walker aren't the only lawyers facing sanctions over ridiculous cases related to the 2020 presidential election.
As we discussed a few weeks ago, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's (D) administration and the city of Detroit are currently seeking penalties against nine attorneys -- a group that includes Trump allies Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood -- who filed anti-election case in December that Democrats believe was also filed "for an improper purpose."
The complaint against the pro-Trump attorneys added that their case "was never about winning on the merits of the claims, but rather, plaintiffs' purpose was to undermine the integrity of the election results and the people's trust in the electoral process and in government. The filing of litigation for that purpose is clearly an abuse of the judicial process and warrants the imposition of sanctions."
U.S. District Judge Linda Parker has yet to rule on the matter, but during a recent hearing, she did not seem especially impressed with those responsible for filing bogus anti-election cases.
All of this matters, of course, not only in the interest of accountability, but also to discourage future frivolous lawsuits in response to election results the GOP doesn't like.