(Reuters) - Sidney Powell and other conservative lawyers who sued to overturn President Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Michigan asked a U.S. appeals court on Thursday to overturn an order sanctioning them for pressing "frivolous" election claims.
During oral arguments that lasted more than two hours, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals pressed Powell to defend her November 2020 Michigan lawsuit, which sought to declare then-President Donald Trump winner of the state's presidential election.
Powell was among the most prominent lawyers to bring lawsuits after the election, alleging massive election fraud in battleground states that Biden won.
U.S. District Judge Linda Parker in Detroit rejected Powell's lawsuit in December 2020, saying it was filled with "speculation and conjecture that votes for President Trump were destroyed, discarded or switched."
Parker sanctioned Powell, L. Lin Wood and other lawyers in December 2021 for bringing the case, calling it "a historic and profound abuse of the judicial process." She fined them $175,000 and ordered them to complete 12 hours of continuing legal education classes.
During Thursday's hearing, 6th Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge questioned Powell about affidavits in the lawsuit that purportedly connected voting machines to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and suggested people from North Korea and Iran somehow had hacked voting machine software.
"Isn’t that facially something that’s not credible?" Kethledge asked.
But Kethledge and the others also pressed attorneys for Michigan state officials and the city of Detroit about whether the sanctions Parker imposed were appropriate, and why a lawsuit would not be the right avenue to challenge allegations of a stolen election.
David Fink of Fink Bressack, who is representing Detroit, said the lawsuit was filed in bad faith. It was filed too late to actually change Michigan's election results and made incorrect claims about voting procedures, he said.
"There was no truth in that complaint," Fink said.
Powell represented herself and a group of other lawyers who were sanctioned -- Howard Kleinhendler, Julia Zsuzsa Haller, Scott Hagerstrom, Brandon Johnson and Gregory Rohl.
Two other lawyers who were sanctioned -- prominent conservative lawyer Wood and former Trump administration official Emily Newman -- argued separately during Thursday's oral arguments that they should not be sanctioned because they contributed very little to the Nov. 25, 2020 lawsuit.
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