Trump Ally Sidney Powell Defeats One Ethics Probe, Now Faces a New One

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

(Bloomberg) -- Conservative attorney Sidney Powell recently prevailed against an ethics case in Texas tied to her failed legal fight to overturn the 2020 election results in favor of former President Donald Trump — even as she faces a new complaint in Michigan.

Most Read from Bloomberg

In Texas, a judge in February dismissed an ethics case against Powell because state bar regulators filed court briefs with “numerous defects.” The Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline acknowledged “inadvertent” mistakes in how exhibits were labeled, but asked the judge to reconsider because they’d presented “ample evidence” against Powell.

Late last week, Judge Andrea Bouressa rejected the commission’s request. A spokesperson for the Texas commission declined to comment.

But Powell now faces a separate complaint, also filed last week, by the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, which claimed Powell and other lawyers brought a “frivolous” post-election challenge in the state. The case, which could affect her law license in Texas, was reported earlier by the Detroit Free Press.

The Michigan commission also alleged that Powell prejudiced the administration of justice, engaged in conduct that exposed the legal profession “to obloquy, contempt, censure, or reproach,” and acted “contrary to justice, ethics, honesty, or good morals.”

An initial hearing before the state’s Attorney Grievance Board is scheduled for June 29. Powell did not return a request for comment.

The Michigan complaint names Powell and eight other attorneys. Although Powell and several of her former co-counsel aren’t members of the state bar in Michigan, they can still face disciplinary action because they performed legal work there, according to the commission.

It’s an unusual situation — state bar regulators typically bring cases against their own members. If the Michigan disciplinary board concludes Powell violated ethics rules, that could trigger another round of proceedings in Texas through a process known as reciprocal discipline. State bar regulators in Texas could present a future order out of Michigan as new evidence and argue Powell should be sanctioned; penalties can range from a public reprimand to disbarment.

The Michigan complaint stems from a civil lawsuit that Powell and her team filed in federal court in Detroit a few weeks after the 2020 election that featured baseless allegations that state and local officials engaged in widespread voter fraud to help President Joe Biden win. The judge dismissed the case on a host of grounds, and Powell lost a last-ditch bid to convince the US Supreme Court to intervene.

US District Judge Linda Parker imposed sanctions on Powell and the other attorneys involved, describing the lawsuit as “a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.” The judge found that the legal team had violated their obligations as attorneys by bringing claims that weren’t rooted in legitimate evidence.

Parker ordered the lawyers to pay more than $175,000 in legal fees to the officials they’d sued and to take legal education classes. She also directed the court clerk to send copies of her decision to the attorney conduct regulators in all of the states where the attorneys were licensed.

Powell and the other sanctioned attorneys appealed Parker’s decision. The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in December and has yet to rule.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.