The Hunting of Sidney Powell, Part 4

This is the fourth of a five-part series exposing the "lawfare" persecution of a conservative.

By Daniel Street Published on May 23, 2024

For Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, see here, here, and here.

A total of 19 bar complaints (technically called “grievances” under Texas law) were filed against Sidney Powell in Texas alone as a result of her efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election results, with additional complaints in Michigan and Arizona.

Importantly, complaints filed against attorneys in Texas, as in most states, are generally held confidential and only become public if the lawyer is found to be in violation of the ethics rules. Powell confirmed for The Stream that none of the complaints against her were filed by current or former clients; they all came from individuals she did not represent and did not know.

She confirmed that she personally had to respond to roughly a dozen of the complaints by filing extensive briefs, exhibits, and even replies and sur-replies.

“It was a colossal waste of time and money caused by a purely political attack against me organized and funded by the Democrats,” Powell said. “The Texas State Bar did not have a shred of evidence I violated any rule.”

The Absence of Evidence

The ethical rules applicable to lawyers vary from one state to the next, but generally in this context, they prohibit lawyers from presenting “frivolous” claims or arguments (having no merit whatsoever) and from making false statements of fact or law to a court. The ethics rules in Texas contain these general prohibitions and obligations (see Rules 3.01, 3.02, 3.03 & 8.04).

In March 2022, the Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline filed a disciplinary petition in state court against Powell based on 10 of the complaints against her, including complaints filed by the Michigan attorney general, governor and secretary of state. After fighting the case for roughly a year, including a massive production of documents and multiple depositions, the Texas judge dismissed the case against Powell in February 2023 due to the Commission’s failure to present any evidence to support its claims. The Commission appealed and in April 2024, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District in Texas affirmed the case’s dismissal, stating, “The absence of evidence demonstrating that Powell knowingly made a false statement of material fact or knowingly offered or used false evidence is fatal to the Bar’s claims.”

Importantly, Texas Statute 81.072(o) states that once a formal disciplinary complaint is dismissed and becomes final, the attorney against whom the complaint was filed “may thereafter deny that a grievance was pursued and may file a motion with the tribunal seeking expunction of all records on the matter.” Expunction, also known as “expungement,” basically clears a person’s record of a charge. Therefore, once the judgment dismissing the complaint against Powell became final, for all legal purposes, it is as if the failed complaints were never filed.

Out-of-State Activists

Apparently, lawyers in Texas understand the potential for activists to abuse the ethics procedures because the rules governing who may file a grievance against Texas lawyers have changed. As of June 18, 2023, Lone Star State law requires the person or entity filing a bar complaint against a Texas lawyer to be a client, former client, judge, or attorney (in the legal matter involved) or other person with a “cognizable interest” in the legal matter at issue. Had this rule been in effect in 2020, all but one of the ethics grievances filed against Powell in Texas would have been immediately dismissed.

When the Michigan governor, secretary of state, and attorney general filed the ethics complaint in against Powell in Texas, they simultaneously filed identical complaints in their home state. As a result, the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission filed an ethics complaint against multiple attorneys, including Powell, arising from the Michigan election challenge. That complaint is still pending. In fact, Powell informed The Stream the Michigan case resumed as soon as the Texas complaint was dismissed in April. It may be on hold now, while the Michigan Bar tries to resolve how it has jurisdiction over Powell — who never practiced in the state — according to its rules.

Trying to Wear an American Down

In Arizona, several attorneys who were not involved in any of the election litigation filed bar complaints against 21 lawyers, including Powell, for their efforts to challenge the state’s 2020 presidential election results. Powell informed The Stream that the bar complaints in Arizona were rejected by two lawyers assigned to review them, but they are still pending review by a third attorney.

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Powell was forced to hire lawyers in three states to defend herself from these bar complaints, at considerable expense. These actions also consume tremendous amounts of time (and started even before Powell finished filing the four lawsuits challenging the election). Finally, as virtually any attorney who was ever the subject of a disciplinary complaint will attest, the effort to strip one of his or her law license, or otherwise subject the lawyer to discipline, causes significant stress, time, and trouble.

Worse still, in this case, most of the Texas complaints could not even be filed against Powell today. The resolution of the Texas complaint in her favor is a tremendous burden lifted, no doubt, but the complaints in Michigan and Arizona remain. Time will tell how they will be resolved. Powell expects the remaining ethics complaints to be resolved in her favor, since “it is obvious, except to those blinded by the politics of the Left,” that she had “ample reasonable basis to file the lawsuits.”

The Michigan sanctions order and voluminous bar complaints filed against Powell in three states are only two aspects of the lawfare waged against her. We’ll discuss the multibillion-dollar lawsuits filed against her in the final article in this series tomorrow.

If you would like to support Sidney Powell in her efforts, visit the website of her organization, Defending the Republic. Part 5 of this series will appear in a subsequent edition.

 

Daniel R. Street is an attorney with more than 25 years of litigation experience. He is the author of the Fake News Exposed about Trump book series. Links to his books, blog, social media, and more may be found at danielrstreet.com.

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