Fifth Circuit Sanctions Democrat Election Lawyer Marc Elias

Attorney Marc E. Elias makes an argument during a hearing on Mark E. Harris v. NC State Board of Elections in Superior Court in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. A North Carolina judge is considering a demand to order the victory of the Republican in the country's last undecided …
Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP, Pool

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sanctioned Democrat election lawyer Marc Elias and attorneys from his Perkins Coie law firm on Friday for filings in an election law case that “violated their duty of candor to the court.”

Elias has been trying to overturn a 2017 Texas law that ended the practice of straight ticket voting, which allowed voters to cast a vote for all of a party’s candidates on the ballot instead of making individual choices in separate down-ticket races.

As the Texas Tribune reported in September, those efforts failed in 2020, after the Fifth Circuit decided it was too close to the November election to invalidate the law: “Plaintiffs had plenty of time over the past three years to challenge [it],” they wrote.

But the litigation continued, and Elias and his firm, representing the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, allegedly filed a motion to supplement the court record in February that “was nearly identical to the motion to supplement the record filed several months ago by the same attorneys, on September 29, 2020,” the judges found.

The judges wrote that the attorneys “failed to notify the court that their previous and nearly identical motion was denied,” and noted that they had failed to file for reconsideration of the court’s September ruling within the fourteen-day window.

Moreover, the judges noted, after attorneys for the State of Texas notified Perkins Coie that they had filed a nearly identical motion, they did not withdraw it. Instead, the judges wrote, “they stood by a motion that multiplied the proceedings unreasonably and vexatiously.”

As a result, Elias and his team will be required to pay the court costs of the other side related to that motion, as well as “double costs.” The judges also encouraged Elias and his colleagues “to review Rule 3.3 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Candor Toward the Tribunal) and complete one hour of Continuing Legal Education in the area of Ethics and Professionalism, specifically candor with the court.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton reacted to the sanctions against Elias in a statement issued Friday:

“Elias has no valid explanation for the misleading submissions to the Fifth Circuit. Even when they were notified that they violated ethical rules, they refused to withdraw their motion. They were aware of their violations and blatantly chose to ignore them,” said Attorney General Paxton. “I thank the Court for issuing these much-needed sanctions. Perkins Coie cannot continue to mislead the Court, especially in a matter as important as election integrity.”

Elias helped arrange the fraudulent “Russia dossier” in 2016 that led to the “Russia collusion” conspiracy theory against Donald Trump, and led many of the Democrats’ lawsuits in 2020. He is currently leading efforts to use the Democrat-run U.S. House to overturn a congressional election in Iowa that was won by Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) by six votes.

The case is Texas Alliance for Retired Americans v. Hughes, No. 20-40643. The judges are Edith Clement, Jennifer Elrod, and Catharina Haynes, all of whom were appointed by George W. Bush. Haynes dissented from the decision to impose sanctions.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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