Attorney behind ‘Steele Dossier’ strongly rebuked by federal judges after sloppy motion filing

Following the turmoil of the legal battles that ensued after the 2020 election, it’s not only lawyers on the Republican side who continue to deal with the aftermath.

Top Democratic election lawyer, Marc Elias — an attorney for international law firm Perkins Coie — and several of his colleagues were strongly rebuked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit after getting quite sloppy with the filing of a motion which caused two judges to claim that it “violated their duty of candor to the court,” according to the Washington Examiner.

Prior to the 2020 election, Elias made headlines during the early days of former President Donald Trump’s term, as he was the attorney that hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which was the firm behind the infamous and debunked “Steele Dossier” from 2016.

Judges respond

At the crux of the issue is a recent motion filed by Elias and his colleagues in February revolving around a case against Texas in which they accused the state of attempting to illegally scrap straight-ticket voting in 2020 during the height of the pandemic.

The problem, according to the judges involved in the case, is that Elias and his team filed the same motion in September — a motion that was dismissed. Because they filed it again and failed to disclose that it had already been filed previously and shot down, the judges slammed Elias and his group for causing unnecessary extra work for the court.

“Appellees did not notify the court that their latest motion to supplement the record filed on February 10, 2021, was nearly identical to the motion to supplement the record filed several months ago by the same attorneys, on September 29, 2020,” a ruling from the judges read.

“This inexplicable failure to disclose the earlier denial of their motion violated their duty of candor to the court,” wrote judges Edith Clement and Jennifer Elrod.

The aforementioned judges both suggested that Elias and his partners be sanctioned for the sloppy and time-consuming mistake.

The punishment

Elias and the other attorneys involved in the debacle were not only ordered to pay double court costs and attorneys fees, but they were also ordered to take another look at the Model Rules of Professional Conduct on “Candor Toward the Tribunal,” with the added suggestion that they “complete one hour of Continuing Legal Education in the area of Ethics and Professionalism, specifically candor with the court.”

Reporting on the situation suggested that the kind of response elicited from the judges was nothing short of a total embarrassment for seasoned, veteran attorneys, like Elias and his team.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opined on the matter, praising the 5th Circuit Appeals Court judges for taking such a strong stance, claiming that Elias and his group “were aware of their violations and blatantly chose to ignore them.”

In a rare response from Perkins Coie, a firm that employs over 1,100 lawyers across the country, the firm stated that they’re disappointed with the court’s ruling and insisted that they stand behind Elias and the lawyers involved.

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