Pour one out for Sidney Powell, who got laughed out of yet another courtroom yesterday when US District Judge Carl J. Nichols dismissed her countersuit against Dominion Voting Systems for “abuse of process.” And by “abuse of process” she meant “suing her for defamation,” something she deems to be by definition tortious.
“Dominion brought this case to punish and make an example of Sidney Powell—a former federal prosecutor who prosecuted 300 appeals on behalf of the United States—for speaking out and drawing attention to the vulnerabilities in Dominion’s election machines and software,” the onetime Kraken lawyer huffed in response to a $1.3 billion defamation suit against her and her charity, Defending the Republic, after she accused the voting machine company of stealing the 2020 presidential election from Donald Trump.
Why, yes, this is the case where Powell bruited her famed “I’m too full of shit to be taken seriously, so I can’t have defamed anyone” defense.
“Dominion initiated a public relations and suppression campaign designed to silence anyone and everyone who had dared or might dare to question the reliability of Dominion’s enterprise and—with regard to this particular lawsuit—to tarnish the reputations of Sidney Powell and Defending the Republic, Inc.” she went on.
In her telling, cease and desist letters to unrelated parties with attached copies of the lawsuit against her constituted prima facie evidence that the company was abusing court process to distract from its own reputational problems and silence its critics. But Judge Nichols was not convinced, noting in a terse three-page order that abuse of process claims must allege not only an ulterior motive, but also “a perversion of the judicial process and achievement of some end not contemplated in the regular prosecution of the charge.”
“Powell must allege that Dominion, after filing its suit, performed some act that perverted the judicial process,” he wrote. “But Powell’s complaint fails to link her abuse-of-process claim to any act that Dominion has taken other than filing and pursuing its lawsuit. She has thus failed to state a claim for abuse of process.” [Internal citations omitted.]
In a footnote, the court observed that getting people to shut up and quit saying lies about your company isn’t an illegitimate aim of defamation litigation — it’s kind of the whole ballgame.
The instant order was 28 pages shorter than the one Judge Nichols wrote dismissing MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s countersuit against Dominion in his own defamation action, although Lindell went the extra crazy mile by interpleading Dominion’s competitor Smartmatic, which necessitated some additional judicial WTF-ing. And yet one gets the distinct impression that Judge Nichols is getting pretty tired of spending his days dealing with the crank supporters of the man who installed him on the bench.
Unfortunately, none of the Dominion defamation suits on Judge Nichols’s docket, including a third complaint against Rudy Giuliani, will come up for trial until early 2024, and the parties seem in no mood to settle.
The kraken will never die. And neither will the year 2020.
US Dominion Inc. v. Powell [Docket via Court Listener]
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.