Lawyer Joseph Meadows, who represented former Congressman Devin Nunes’ aide in a defamation lawsuit against CNN, asked a panel of federal appeals court judges Tuesday to reverse sanctions a lower court judge imposed against him over the failed litigation.

Nunes’ senior adviser Derek Harvey and his attorneys, Meadows and Steven Biss, were ordered to pay $21,400 in attorney fees and costs to CNN last May after a trial judge dismissed a suit Harvey brought against the network. In dismissing the case, U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett of the District of Maryland allowed the lawyers to file an amended complaint addressing “manifest deficiencies,” but Bennett found the revised allegations weren’t distinct enough from the original ones and still lacked “defamatory meaning.”

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