Lawyers sanctioned over 'fantastical' suit alleging 2020 U.S. election was stolen

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By Jan Wolfe

(Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Wednesday sanctioned two lawyers who brought a lawsuit alleging the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump and his supporters, calling their case "one enormous conspiracy theory."

"This lawsuit was filed with a woeful lack of investigation," U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter said in a lengthy written decision, which came four months after he dismissed the case.

Neureiter ordered the two lawyers, Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker, to pay the legal fees incurred by people and entities they sued, including Facebook Inc and voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems Inc.

The amount of money the two will need to pay has not yet been determined by Neureiter, who has asked Dominion and Facebook to provide documentation about how much they spent.

Fielder, through a representative, declined to comment. Walker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fielder and Walker, both of Colorado, filed their lawsuit in December on behalf of 160 million U.S. voters, alleging that Dominion, Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan and elected officials in four states conspired to steal the election — and asking for $160 billion in damages.

In Wednesday's order, the judge said the lawyers sowed doubt over President Joe Biden's victory with no evidence.

"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," the judge said.

A judge in Detroit last month appeared likely to reprimand Sidney Powell, a former Trump campaign lawyer, and other attorneys over a lawsuit they filed in Michigan seeking to overturn Biden's election victory in November.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker suggested the lawyers should have investigated the claims more carefully before suing.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)