If you have been watching the news lately you know that former President Trump has been having a terrible week in terms of legal matters. Most the attention has focused on the reversal of part of the lower court's ruling in the Mar-a-Lago search case and on the civil claim filed in New York. But there is another story that is more interesting to PR nerds like me and that has been mostly overlooked by the general media.
On September 8, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Trump against Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, Rep. Adam Schiff, and others that alleged that the defendants conspired to spread disinformation about his campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
In the opinion (available here), the judge explicitly finds that many of the complaint’s allegations and claims lack factual support and that having filed the case was a violation of rules of civil procedure (which in turn would make it a violation of rules of professional conduct).
Citing Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court states that “[i]n presenting a pleading, an attorney certifies that it is not being presented for any improper purpose; that the claims are warranted under the law; and that the factual contentions have evidentiary support.”
The judge then concludes that “[b]y filing the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff’s lawyers certified to the Court that, to the best of their knowledge, “the claims, defenses and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying or reversing existing law or for establishing new law.” and that “the factual contentions have evidentiary support[.]”... I have serious doubts about whether that standard is met here.”
Having concluded this, however, the judge did not impose sanctions. Instead, at the very end of the opinion he asserts "I reserve jurisdiction to adjudicate issues pertaining to sanctions."
I have not heard whether the judge has made a decision on sanctions, nor whether the conduct of the lawyers, has been or will be referred to disciplinary agencies. I hope the judge decides to do both.