Sidney Powell’s disciplinary lawsuit stays dismissed

A bummer, and a black eye for the State Bar.

A Dallas appeals court on Thursday upheld a decision not to discipline Sidney Powell, former lawyer for Donald Trump, for her role in seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election, saying the complaint against her was riddled with errors.

In a scathing 25-page opinion, a panel of three Democratic judges criticized the State Bar for filing a complaint against Powell with mislabeled evidence. A Collin County judge had tossed the case in early 2023, citing the disorganization.

“The Bar employed a ‘scattershot’ approach to the case, which left this court and the trial court ‘with the task of sorting through the argument to determine what issue ha(d) actually been raised,’” wrote Judge Dennise Garcia.

The appeals court agreed that the Bar had not met its burden of proof to show Powell knowingly made a false statement or used false evidence when she filed lawsuits to overturn the election results.

Powell’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The trial court declined to consider any evidence that the Bar failed to cite or identify, and the appeals court on Thursday said it would do the same.

A Bar committee, which declined to comment on the ruling, had asked the appeals court to consider all evidence even if citations were incorrect or missing.

“Reference alone will not suffice,” Garcia wrote, adding that according to court precedent, the “court was not required to sift through plaintiff’s voluminous evidence to determine whether any of it raised (a) fact question.”

Claire Reynolds, a Bar spokesperson, said the commission has not yet decided whether it will appeal.

See here, here, and here for the background, and here for the Court’s opinion. My initial reaction to the dismissal of the case was anger that the State Bar had apparently bungled the job; there was later a DMN editorial that claimed they got screwed by the trial judge. The Court cast the tiebreaker here, and the verdict is bungle. I am a loss for words to understand that. It’s absolutely infuriating.

The State Bar says they may appeal, but at this point that seems like throwing good money after bad. Is there some rule that says they can’t just refile, hopefully this time with their ducks in a row, and start over? It’s not a criminal case, is there some double jeopardy situation that applies? I genuinely don’t know. At least Powell has pled guilty to some felony charges in Georgia (another potential major bunglement, though that isn’t decided yet), so she hasn’t gotten off totally scot-free. But seriously, as Casey Stengel once said, can’t anyone here play this game?

In the meantime, as this story notes, we await from this same court their ruling on Ken Paxton’s appeal that his disciplinary case can proceed, and SCOTx has Brent Webster’s appeal of his reinstated case. Two out of three wouldn’t be bad if it goes that way, but there’s no reason why all of them couldn’t have been won. I’ll be mad about this for a long time.

UPDATE: The same court ruled Friday that the disciplinary suit against Paxton can proceed. That will absolutely be appealed to SCOTx. I’ll have a post about this tomorrow.

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2 Responses to Sidney Powell’s disciplinary lawsuit stays dismissed

  1. mollusk says:

    The Court of Appeals affirmed Sidney Powell’s “no evidence” motion for summary judgment – which is pretty much what it sounds like. In order to defeat the no evidence motion the State Bar just had to show that there was some evidence that raised a reasonable argument that she actually did whatever bad stuff the Bar was relying on to yank her law license. As the opinion discusses in great detail, there was apparently a ton of stuff filed with the Bar’s motion. Problem is, even after three attempts the Bar didn’t specifically point out more than three specific needles in that haystack, none of which were adequate to do that one job (the Bar also mislabeled several exhibits, but the CoA was only annoyed by that – it wasn’t dispositive). It’s pretty basic that you don’t inundate a court with a giant pile of documents and then expect that court to go on a snipe hunt to figure out what’s in there. That’s the lawyer’s job, and the rules, case law, good advocacy, and common sense all dictate that you have to point out specifically what you’re relying upon and why.

  2. Pingback: Paxton’s disciplinary lawsuit can continue | Off the Kuff

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