A pair of local lawyers scolded by a federal magistrate over their lack of evidence of a stolen presidential election last Friday asked for and were denied another hearing Wednesday afternoon.
"To be blunt, that train left the station last Friday," U.S. Magistrate Judge N. Reid Neureiter said in his order denying the request. "The sanctions motions have been argued and submitted."
A class-action lawsuit filed in December by Denver lawyers Gary D. Fielder and Ernest J. Walker sought $1,000 a voter for more about 160 million voters, a total of roughly $160 billion, against Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook and elected officials in four states, as well as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, on the list of 18 defendants plus "Does 1 to 10,000," meaning yet unnamed defendants.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of conspiring to cost President Donald Trump last November's election.
Neureiter dismissed the original lawsuit in April, less than 24 hours after hearing arguments, citing the same procedural problem as dozens of other similar failed voting integrity lawsuits: none of the plaintiffs could demonstrate how they were harmed, a dilemma lawyers call standing.
The defendants who paid for lawyers to defend against the suit asked the judge to sanction Fielder and Walker.
Sanctions against the pair could include paying the defendants' lawyer fees. Neureiter did not indicate Monday or last Friday when he would issue a decision on sanctions.
During Friday's hearing, Neureiter pressed Fielder if he did any independent research on allegations, including that Dominion rigged its voting equipment to throw voters from then-President Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
Fielder used experts, affidavits and media reports in other cases to file his suit in Denver.
"I didn't speak to any of the experts, but I reached out and I tried to email people and get a hold of them, but no one ever really responded," Fielder responded to the judge on Friday.
As to the basis of the lawsuit then, he said: "There did appear to be some factual anomalies that it even happened on the night and in the morning after the election, as I watched it myself. The swing states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, they all seem to stop counting at the same time."
Fielder said repeatedly during the 2½-hour hearing that he was not a Trump supporter.
The judge questioned Fielder about court cases and public officials, including Trump's attorney general, William Barr, who have said there was never enough voter fraud to overturn the election. Barr even reportedly referred to it in a profane term for bull manure.
"Shouldn't that have been a red light for you, or at least a flashing yellow light, that, 'Hey, before ... I cut and paste from these other lawsuits and these media reports into a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of 160 million registered voters seeking $160 billion in damages, shouldn't I actually talk to a human being and try and verify whether this was true or not?" Neureiter asked Fielder last Friday.
The lawyers under scrutiny said they did not realize until last Friday that they would asked to defend their "reasonable inquiry" before filing the lawsuit in December. Fielder said they collected about $95,000 in donations to pursue the case, after Neureiter asked about a website soliciting donors.
In his Monday ruling on the motion, Neureiter said he did "take issue with one factual assertion" in the request. Fielder and Waker said he called them "propaganda tools" for Trump.
"Did it ever occur to you that you might be being used, wittingly or unwittingly, as a propaganda tool for the ex-President to file this lawsuit and repeat his statements, and other people who are repeating statements in his favor?" Neureiter asked on Friday.
Fielder replied in the court, "Of course it occurred to me. I tried to analyze it. I looked at it. I was engrossed in it at all times."
In Monday's denial for another hearing, Neureiter responded, "The Court did not accuse counsel of being a propaganda tool. Instead, the Court was asking whether counsel had considered the possibility that he was being used as a propaganda tool, attempting to ascertain what counsel had done to independently verify factual assertions of the former President before including them in a public pleading."