Any attorney thinking about taking on Donald Trump as a client should think twice about the repercussions both professionally and financially after the former president and his lead attorney in a federal court case were hit with an almost million-dollar sanction on Friday.
Labeling a suit filed by attorney Alina Habba at Trump’s request against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “frivolous,” U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks was unsparing in his ruling.
Writing Trump and his attorney have demonstrated a “pattern of abuse of the courts” that “undermines the rule of law” and “amounts to obstruction of justice,” he then added, “Here, we are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose.”
According to legal experts who spoke with Bloomberg, lawyers should think long and hard if Trump approaches them because they believe he will walk away from the latest legal setback “unscathed” and unafraid to file similar lawsuits in other legal venues.
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According to former federal prosecutor Kevin O’Brien, Trump could blame Habba for blowing the case before Middlebrook and leave her holding the bag for the entire fine as fellow former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance pointed out on MSNBC on Saturday afternoon.
“Trump’s conduct will not change,” O’Brien explained. “First there will be the time-consuming and frivolous appeals. Then, because the penalty was imposed ‘jointly and severally’ on both Trump and his lawyer, Ms. Habba, Trump will not pay, leaving Habba to shoulder the entire penalty on pain of keeping her law license.”
Chicago trial lawyer Shawn Collins agreed, stating the court sanctions will weigh heavier on Trump’s lawyers than on him, adding it’s a “hellish price to be paid” for indulging Trump’s desire to base his lawsuits on “fact-free tabloid-style theories.”
Collins predicted that lawyers “will think twice about it, out of a sense of financial self-preservation, if not professionalism and decency.”
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