Dershowitz asks to be spared from sanctions in Kari Lake's failed voting machine suit
An attorney who worked on Kari Lake’s 2022 lawsuit aiming to ban the use of electronic vote machines in Arizona says he shouldn’t face sanctions along with the rest of Lake’s counsel because of his "little involvement” in the case.
Alan Dershowitz says he was mistakenly listed as the lead attorney in Lake’s suit against the Arizona secretary of state and supervisors of both Maricopa and Pima Counties. Rather than leading the legal effort to disrupt trust in Arizona’s elections, Dershowitz says he spent “merely three or four hours” on the case as an advisor to Lake’s attorneys on a matter of constitutionality.
In a Wednesday afternoon hearing in Arizona federal court, he and his attorney Dennis Wilenchik distanced themselves from the “army of attorneys” Wilenchik said is trying to undo the 2020 General Election.
“I do not like Miss Lake,” Dershowitz told U.S. District Judge John Tuchi. “I would never have voted for her. I would never in a million years be part of any campaign to influence or affect the election.
“I did this because I believe the constitution requires that people who perform government functions be as transparent as the actual government," he said.
Lake sued-Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in April 2022, claiming that electronic voting machines are too susceptible to remote hacking, and therefore should be banned from use in Arizona until they can be scientifically analyzed for potential for “manipulation or intrusion.” The companies delegated by the state of Arizona to provide the vote machines declined to show the inner-workings of their machines, claiming trade secrets. Dershowitz says he gave advice to Lake’s actual lead attorney, Andrew Parker, on the constitutionality of that matter alone.
Tuchi dismissed Lake’s case in August, deeming the claims “too speculative” to have legal standing. Two weeks earlier, attorneys for Maricopa County asked him to issue sanctions against Lake’s counsel for what they deemed to be false and misleading allegations.
“The entire foundation of plaintiffs’ case — the alleged need for court intervention to implement their preferred method of ballot tabulation because they fear possible, invisible, undetectable invaders into Arizona counties’ ballot tabulation equipment that will allegedly improperly manipulate the vote count — is based purely on speculation, conjecture and unwarranted suspicion,” attorney Emily Craiger wrote in the motion.
Tuchi granted the motion in December, asking Maricopa County to calculate its attorneys fees to be paid by Lake’s counsel. The county asked for $141,690.
If a judge finds an attorney violated Rule 11, the federal law that requires legal contentions to be filed with factual supporting evidence and warranted by existing law, they may issue a directive against them or their law firm that discourages them from future misconduct. Sanctions may or may not include financial punishment.
Dershowitz says he shouldn’t be included in the sanctions because he made an “honest mistake” in listing himself as “of counsel,” rather than “as counsel.” He said he intended the distinction to make clear that he was there only as an advisor to the law firm representing Lake, and did not represent Lake herself in any way, as he doesn’t know her nor has he met her. But the clerk’s office, and subsequently the county’s legal team, interpreted his signature on the court documents as him serving as counsel for Lake.
Craiger said the presence of his signature alone justifies his inclusion in the sanctions.
“His name on the pleadings has significance,” she told Tuchi.
Craiger cited a phone call between counsel on both sides that Dershowitz was present for, as well as a hearing in which he participated telephonically, to argue he had a larger role than he admits.
Dershowitz acknowledged the phone call but said he never said a word and hung up early when he realized the constitutionality topic he was brought on for wouldn’t be discussed.
He argued that because he wasn’t involved in drafting the complaint or any of the subsequent filings, he thought it was clear that his involvement was limited. But his name was signed on a total of 15 filings in the case, Tuchi said, and he was only listed as “of counsel” on the first three. His name was signed “as counsel” on the remaining 12. Parker told Tuchi that he sent Dershowitz all 12 of those documents, and that Dershowitz approved them via email.
Dershowitz said he wasn’t looking very closely at the documents because he was no longer involved in the case, and didn’t realize his name was still attached. He said he would have rectified it if he were aware.
Regardless, Craiger said Dershowitz was reckless for not remedying the issue, reiterating that “signatures have meaning.” Because he had the opportunity to remove himself from the proceedings before a motion for sanctions was made, Craiger said he should be found just as liable as the rest of Lake’s team.
Tuchi didn’t issue a ruling today, instead taking the issue under advisement. It’s unclear when he will rule.