A federal judge has imposed what amounts to a “frivolity fine” of $937,989.39 against former President Donald Trump and his lawyer.
“Plaintiff Donald J. Trump and Plaintiff’s lead attorney—Alina Habba and Habba Madaio & Associates—are jointly and severally liable for $937,989.39,” U.S. District Court Judge Donald Middlebrooks ordered Thursday.
MIddlebrooks was appointed to the court by former President Bill Clinton in January 1997. Middlebrooks said in his 46-page order that Trump was sanctioned because of a continuing pattern of misuse of the courts.
“This case should never have been brought. Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start,” declared the judge. “No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim.”
“A continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Mr. Trump and his lawyers undermines the rule of law, portrays judges as partisans, and diverts resources from those who have suffered actual legal harm,” Middlebrooks added.
Trump sued Hillary Clinton, among others, March 24, 2022, in Florida’s Southern District Court, alleging “[T]he Defendants, blinded by political ambition, orchestrated a malicious conspiracy to disseminate patently false and injurious information about Donald J. Trump and his campaign, all in the hope of destroying his life, his political career, and rigging the 2016 Presidential Election in favor of Hillary Clinton.”
Clinton moved to have the case against her dismissed, claiming substantial and fundamental legal flaws in April 2022. The other defendants soon filed similar motions to dismiss, citing similar flaws in Trump’s case against them.
“The problems in the Complaint were obvious from the start,” Middlebrooks explained. “They were identified by the Defendants not once but twice, and Mr. Trump persisted anyway.”
Trump promised “to cure any deficiencies,” but the amended complaint his attorney filed June 21, 2022, “failed to cure any of the defects,” MIddlebrooks wryly noted. “Instead, Plaintiff added eighty new pages of largely irrelevant allegations that did nothing to salvage the legal sufficiency of his claims.”
Middlebrooks dismissed the case against all defendants except the United States, which he allowed to substitute for defendants James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Kevin Clinesmith, September 8, 2022.
Habba continued to advocate Trump’s claims. Fox News personality Sean Hannity interviewed her September 10, 2022, and asked her, “Why isn’t [Hillary Clinton] being held accountable for what she did?”
“Because when you have a Clinton judge as we did here, Judge Middlebrooks who I had asked to recuse himself but insisted that he didn’t need to, he was going to be impartial, and then proceeds to write a 65-page scathing order where he basically ignored every
factual basis which was backed up by indictments, by investigations,” Habba responded, adding later that Middlebrooks dismissed the case.
“Not only do we get dismissed, he says that this is not the proper place for recourse for Donald Trump,” Trump’s attorney added.
The judge noted Habba’s interview responses in his sanctions order, including one where she said Trump urged her to drop the case because they would never win.
“Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries,” Middlebrooks argued, explaining his reasons for ordering sanctions against Trump and Habba. “He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer.”