DOVER, Del. — A conservative attorney who helped lead legal efforts to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in favor of President Donald Trump has been denied permission to represent former Trump campaign operative Carter Page in a defamation lawsuit in Delaware.
A Superior Court judge ruled Monday that L. Lin Wood’s actions in election-related lawsuits in Georgia and Wisconsin “exhibited a toxic stew of mendacity, prevarication, and surprising incompetence.”
“What has been shown in court decisions of our sister states satisfies me that it would be in appropriate and inadvisible to continue Mr. Wood’s permission to practice before this court,” Judge Craig Karsnitz wrote.
Delaware judges routinely allow attorneys who are not members of the state bar to participate in specific cases with permission of the court. Karsnitz granted Wood permission to participate in the Page lawsuit in August, but revoked it in Monday’s ruling.
The ruling came almost a month after Karsnitz issued a “rule to show cause” ordering Wood to demonstrate why his permission to represent Page should not be revoked. It mentions recent inflammatory tweets by Wood attacking Vice President Mike Pence and Chief Justice John Roberts, and last week’s violence at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
“No doubt these tweets, and many other things, incited these riots,” Karsnitz wrote, while noting that Wood’s conduct in that regard did not play any part in his ruling.
Instead, Karsnitz indicated that he was concerned about Wood’s actions in Georgia and Wisconsin. He described the Georgia lawsuit as “textbook frivolous litigation,” noting that a Georgia judge had determined that it had “no basis in fact or law.” He also chastised Wood for filing an error-ridden affidavit of an expert witness, describing the failure to ensure its accuracy as “either mendacious or incompetent.”
Initial pleadings in the Wisconsin case were “riddled with errors,” said Karsnitz, rejecting Wood’s contention that they amounted to “proof reading errors.”
“Failure to certify a complaint for injunction or even serve the defendants are not proof reading errors,” Karsnitz wrote. “The complaint would not survive a law school civil procedure class.”
Wood did not immediately respond to email and phone messages Wednesday.
In a Jan. 6 response to Karsnitz’s rule to show cause, lawyers for Wood said he has not been found in violation of any rules of professional conduct in Delaware or any other jurisdiction. They also said he was acting as a plaintiff, not a lawyer, in the Georgia case, and was not the attorney of record in the Wisconsin lawsuit. They nevertheless requested that he be allowed to voluntarily withdraw his application to appear in the Delaware lawsuit.
Page filed the Delaware suit in July against Oath Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc. which is now known as Verizon Media and which includes Yahoo! and AOL. The company also owned HuffPost, formerly known as The Huffington Post, but sold it to BuzzFeed in November.
Page claims that he was harmed by the publication of false and defamatory statements suggesting that he was secretly plotting with Russian leaders to sabotage the 2016 presidential election. Page was the target of a secret surveillance campaign by the FBI as part of an investigation into Russian interference in the campaign, but he was never charged with any wrongdoing.
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