Stopping ‘Stop the Steal’
David Fink fought election fraud lawsuits, but fears for the future
Published in 2022 Michigan Super Lawyers magazine on August 8, 2022
As the lawsuits alleging voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election draw to a close, attorney David Fink, who represented the city of Detroit in those lawsuits, worries a dangerous precedent has been set.
“What does this mean for the future?” he asks. “Will every election now just be an invitation to endless litigation? Will it be only the Democrats who accept the results if they lose, but if a Republican loses they go to court?”
In November 2020, soon after the election results showed Michigan went for President Joe Biden, supporters of President Donald Trump filed legal actions claiming the results were fraudulent. Federal and state judges quickly dismissed the suits—“Democrat, Republican and non-partisan judges,” Fink adds.
U.S. Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan Linda Parker called the voter fraud claims “nothing but speculation and conjecture” during a July hearing. She later issued sanctions against Trump attorney Sidney Powell, and eight other attorneys who filed lawsuits. It was the right move, says Fink, who was initially “astounded by the carelessness in the pleadings.”
“Incorrect defendants were named, improper statutes were referenced, and most of the lawsuits … were unsupported by the facts and the law,” he says.
Common claims were fraud with absentee ballots, but Fink says the pleadings often lacked any understanding of absentee voting in Michigan. In more than one suit, plaintiffs claimed people were fraudulently voting absentee on the same day they submitted their applications. But in Michigan, a voter can fill out an absentee application, get a ballot, and turn it back in without ever leaving the clerk’s office. “Anyone familiar with election law or procedure would know that,” he says.
Despite the fact that the lawsuits were rejected in Michigan, and Judge Parker’s financial sanctions, some attorneys have raised money to support ongoing litigation. “I think it’s fair to assume that they are raising more money every month than it will cost them in sanctions,” Fink says. So it might not be enough to stop new lawsuits ripe with errors and misstatements of the law.
“If attorneys aren’t held to a higher standard, what does it mean to be an officer of the court?” he adds. “If attorneys are allowed to make reckless and false claims that are neither grounded in fact nor law, what was the purpose of law school? What is the purpose of the bar exam? What is the purpose of the oath we take?”