The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals imposed sanctions against Perkins Coie partner Marc Elias and other attorneys representing Democrats in a case where they challenged a Texas election law going into the 2020 elections.
The case centers on a state law barring “straight ticket voting,” a practice that had allowed voters to automatically vote for every member of a particular party who is on the ballot by marking a single box instead of voting for each one individually. On Feb. 10, Elias and other attorneys filed a motion to supplement the record in the case, without mentioning that they had already filed what the court called a “nearly identical” motion in September 2020 that had been denied.
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“This inexplicable failure to disclose the earlier denial of their motion violated their duty of candor to the court,” the Fifth Circuit said in an order dated March 11. The court went on to say that “[s]anctions are warranted in this case to deter future violations.”
Those sanctions include paying “reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs” that the other side incurred related to the February motion, as well as “double costs.” The court said that the attorneys are also “encouraged” to review the applicable section of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and to go through one hour of Continuing Legal Education related to ethics and professionalism, “specifically candor with the court.”
Perkins Coie stood by their attorneys in the face of the sanctions.
“We do not normally respond to requests for comment on pending litigation, but the Firm and the attorneys involved in this matter strongly disagree with the Appellate Court’s ruling and its order of sanctions in this case,” a firm spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News. “The Firm fully and completely supports our attorneys in this case.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the court’s ruling, saying in a statement that “Perkins Coie cannot continue to mislead the Court, especially in a matter as important as election integrity.”
The case was brought on behalf of plaintiffs including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans. Their position included the argument that prohibiting straight ticket voting would result in longer wait times to vote, which could harm lower-income and minority voters who lack the job flexibility to take the time wait.
Before the November election, a lower court had granted their request for a preliminary injunction, only for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a stay on that ruling pending appeal.
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Perkins Coie – and Elias in particular – has represented Democratic organizations in several cases in which they challenged election laws in several states ahead of 2020’s election. According to Law.com, the firm billed the DSCC, DCCC and the Democratic National Committee a total of $27 million, more than double what they charged them and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.
Elias and Perkins Coie drew notoriety for their involvement with the DNC and Clinton’s 2016 campaign for their role in hiring research firm Fusion GPS, who in turn hired former British spy Christopher Steele to conduct opposition research that produced the infamous dossier on alleged Trump campaign ties to Russia.
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A Justice Department Inspector General’s investigation found that the Steele dossier was instrumental in the FBI’s application for a warrant to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early months of their Russia investigation. The FBI has never verified the contents of the dossier, and they failed to tell the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that Steele’s sub-source said the information was not reliable.
Elias is currently assisting the effort to overturn the result of a congressional race in Iowa, where Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks narrowly defeated Democrat Rita Hart by just six votes. The House Administration Committee voted to consider Hart’s challenge.